Even before the pandemic and the new generation of hybrid or remote classes, going back to school has always been accompanied by either kids’ excitement or fear. For most anxious kids, it may need more time and hand-holding to adjust.
Not only the students, but parents can also be anxious about sending their kids to school. As parents, there are plenty of things you’ll need to prepare before sending your kids off on their first day, but we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of advice we have for parents who are preparing their kids to start to go or return to school.
Go School Shopping
Engaging in school shopping can be a wonderful way to ignite enthusiasm in children about attending school. For many kids, it is a thrilling and enjoyable experience as they have the opportunity to select items that they want and will call their own.
It is important to note that while buying unnecessary items chosen by the children is not a requirement, it can contribute to their self-exploration. Allowing children to express themselves through their choices supports their mental, social, and emotional development.
While school shopping may be a fun activity for kids, it is primarily a responsibility that falls on parents. They have the task of ensuring that essential school supplies and necessities are acquired in preparation for the upcoming academic year. If this is your first time, keep the following in mind when going school shopping:
- For most school supplies, it’ll be better to wait for teachers’ or schools’ advice. This helps you avoid missing any required thing and do everything in one go.
- Consider the quality and durability of the items you’re purchasing. Opt for sturdy backpacks, reliable lunch boxes, and durable stationery that can withstand the rigours of daily use. Investing in long-lasting supplies can save you money in the long run.
- If kids go to school by bike, esure they have a quality helmet. It’s also advised to let them wear bright-coloured clothes or visibility devices, like a vest or armband with reflectors, to increase their visibility on the road.
- If they go by car, ensure to have an age and size-appropriate car seat or harness booster seat in your car or carpool. That way, they can stay comfortable and safe the entire ride to school.
- Consider the size and weight of the items, particularly if your child will be carrying them throughout the day. Lightweight and appropriately sized supplies can ensure comfort and ease throughout the day.
- Lastly, be mindful of your budget. Set a reasonable spending limit and compare prices from different stores to find the best deals. Remember that cost doesn’t always determine quality, so prioritise functionality and suitability for your child’s needs.
School shopping is also a great way to set a yearly ritual. It can serve as an annual tradition in your family with the intention of resetting your child’s mindset and starting anew. Overall, with the excitement and annual habit prompted by school shopping, kids will be less likely to have difficulty going back and adapting to school.
Make The First Day Easier
Many kids get nervous about new situations and environments. These include switching from hybrid or remote learning to in-person learning, attending a new school, changing to a new classroom, or meeting a new teacher or classmates. This may happen at any age.
Failure to address and prevent excessive nervousness in children can potentially lead to increased worry. When children worry excessively, it can hinder their ability to derive enjoyment from school, affect their eating habits, disrupt their sleep patterns, and even serve as an indicator of an underlying anxiety disorder if left unchecked. It is essential to recognize and address these signs of excessive worrying to promote the well-being and mental health of children.
It’s helpful to rehearse heading into the new changes kids may face when they return to school or attend school for the first time. For example, consider attending any available orientations and school tours with your child before the first day.
If visiting isn’t possible, allow them to watch school-related TV shows or movies to give them an idea of what the school experience will entail. Be sure to point out the positive parts of going to school to help them look forward to the first day of class.
If kids’ nervousness and anxieties persist even after your school’s intervention, parents should look to seek professional guidance. Ask the school guidance counsellor or your paediatrician for a referral to a licensed psychologist or child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Work Their Social Muscles
The COVID-19 pandemic left a toll on kids who missed out on social interactions and general socialisation. While most kids have already overcome this with the switch to in-person learning, others’ social muscles may have continuously declined, especially if parents have followed strict isolation restrictions.
These socially isolated kids have to relearn how to socialise and re-train themselves to be with others in safe, healthy ways before school starts. Research has shown that social isolation is linked to kids’ reduced academic success, decreased cognitive and physical development, and increased physical and mental disorders risk in adulthood.
Communicate with Your Kids
Parents should also talk to their kids about their feelings and perspectives about attending school, meeting old or new friends, listening to teachers, and doing new activities. Ask them about their expectations, interests in learning, along with any concerns they might have.
Communicating with your kids is a good way to not only find ways to solve their worries (e.g., bullying) but also help them develop social-emotional learning (SEL). It’s the process and ways in which kids develop self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills.
This enables them to build healthy relationships with themselves and with others. Research has shown that kids with stronger social-emotional skills tend to cope with daily challenges and be socially, academically, and professionally adept.
Parents should also remember that schools are always open to address any concerns they or their children may have. Don’t wait until the first day of class to ask the school for help. The best time to reach them is around one to two weeks before they open.