Starting a new school can be traumatic. Here are some ideas from The Parent Practice to help children to be happy, cooperative and confident.
Parenting expert Elaine has some advice below to help your child's formal education get off to the best start possible, whether it's their starting school for the first time, starting a new school or moving up to 'big school'.
To help you child settle in really well:
Preparing children in advance
Encouraging confidence and cooperation
Empathising with and validating their feelings
Familiarising your child with the school. Visit or look at pictures of the new school often. Explain unfamiliar things.
Getting any uniform well in advance.
Practicing in role play conversations with other children.
Build confidence and cooperation by noticing and describing what the child has done right.
Focus on the positives “You hung up your coat without me reminding you.” “You remembered to bring home your games kit (or most of your games kit!)”
Praise effort and attitude. “You’re not giving up on tying your shoelaces. They’re really tricky when you’re first learning.”
Praise improvement. “You’re getting quicker at putting on your socks now.”
What quality does that show? eg maturity, self-control. “You didn’t interrupt me when I was on the phone although I could see you wanted to speak to me. That takes self-control.”
If children can say how they feel parents need to listen and not deny the child’s feelings.
Child: I don’t like school.
Parent: Don’t say: “You’ll love it, you’ll see.”
Do say: “There are probably a lot of things that are quite confusing right now since school is so new to you.”
Some children don’t speak about their feelings but parents can guess something is amiss and need to address the underlying feelings.
Stop what you are doing and convey with your body language that you are paying attention.
Look behind your child’s action or words and imagine how he is feeling; reflect it back to him in words.
Don’t try to make it better. Children don’t need protection from their feelings– they need to be able to deal with them. Once children’s feelings have been expressed they may be ready to focus on solutions.
You can get individual school advice from Elaine by visiting her Greatvine profile
You can view the full list of Greatvine experts specialising in education.