I was always excited to get back to school after vacation. I missed my friends and couldn’t wait to hear and share all the things that happened since we last saw each other.
For many children going to school can be scary. It may be:
- Fear of starting school - separation from parents or caregivers.
- Fear of a new school - not knowing anyone.
- Fear of the new teacher - unknown expectations, routines or failure.
- Fear of meeting their parents expectations.
- Fear of previous experiences - such as bullies.
- Fear of crowds.
- Fear of not being popular - being called a geek or a nerd.
- Fear of being ostracized - being in some way different from the other kids.
- Fear of peer pressure.
- Fear for general safety - considering recent tragedies.
Before they start school:
a) At least a week before school starts, make sure they have all their stationery, school clothing and a
weekly home routine worked out.
b) Discuss your expectations of them. Don’t just expect them to follow a new home schedule. When
they know why they need to keep to a routine they are more likely to comply. The timetable should
include their time to get up, times for meals, time for homework, time for play, time for chores and
time for bed. There should be a time set for relaxation when they first get home from school, but no
TV as this tends to suck them into a program they won’t want to stop watching.
c) A week before school starts ensure they start going to bed early and wake up earlier to get them
used to ‘the reality of a school year’.
d) It is a good idea to talk about what they might expect when they get to school.
Once at school:
a) If it is a new school and a young child it would be very wise for you, as parent, to take your child
to the classroom.
b) Once your child has started school, watch carefully to make sure they are settled and happy. They
have much to contend with in those first few weeks. They are finding their place in the class,
learning new material, getting used to a new teacher and new friends.
c) Your liaison with the school is very important. Ensure you attend all parent teacher appointments.
It is disappointing to see how quickly parent attendance at school functions diminishes through the
grades. For the sake of your child:
- Maintain a close relationship with the school right through their educational development. Email their teacher regularly regarding your child’s academic progress and behavior.
- Take a keen interest in what your child is learning.
- Plan to volunteer in the classroom one day per semester.
- Help your child research their subjects and ensure they finish their homework. Don’t do it for them!
- Ensure they don’t procrastinate on starting assignments and ensure they finish vacation projects.
The most important thing of all is to encourage your children with their efforts at school. There is only
one person who can be ‘top of the class’. Their best effort is the most you can expect. Celebrate their
achievements whatever they are. And support them through their disappointments.
Success at school will set your child up for the rest of his/her life. Take it seriously.
Written by Sally Burgess