My children are heading back to school and I think I am more nervous than they are! What can I do – there is always a big cry at the playground and they clutch onto me - I feel so guilty about leaving them.
Feeling guilty sounds like a pretty normal response from what you are describing – I remember those playground scenes all too well with my children. It’s not easy, but there are some steps you can take in order to help ease you into the school groove and make everyone feel more comfortable.
1. Visit the playground of the school and come back for repeat visits.
2. Familiarize your child with the inside of the school, even just to wander the halls, check out the washrooms and classrooms, if open.
3. Check out Playgroups in your area on Facebook and other media sites to see if your child can find a playmate before school.
4. Visit local parent support groups (www.5forlifeforever.com for many contacts in Strathmore and area)
5. Organize school supplies and get a backpack – attach a stuffed animal to it for comfort.
6. Review your child’s timetable and provide a visual schedule plan with photos or drawings. (google visual schedules under image for many examples)
7. Provide a routine for your child so they develop a pattern before and after school. (Every day, have your child telephone grandma/grandpa after breakfast for a quick good morning and then head off for school; after school, go and get the mail together or walk the dog.)
8. Find out the bus stop in advance and make several walking trips to the stop with your child. Explain calmly what will happen every day without drama or emotion.
9. Give something for your child to focus on for the end of the school day (we will read together or have a freezie together after school)
10. Have your child write down their worries and then discuss them – don’t dismiss or minimize their worries. Talk about why they worry and how they feel – strategize about what might make them feel better.
11. Practice yoga, relaxation and breathing techniques with your child. Make it a daily ritual. Three slow, deep breaths can be a quick self-calming strategy.
12. Visit the school a couple of days prior to the start in order to allow your child to meet teachers.
13. Relax and model to your child how you deal with stress. “I’m feeling stressed – I think I will take 3 deep breaths.”
14. Emphasize the things your child has accomplished and send him/her to bed with positive thoughts about future experiences.
15. For that first school day, go through the same steps that you did in your practice runs – keep your “Have fun and see you soon!” brief and make a quick smiley exit. You can get emotional after you leave the playground. ;)
16. To help support your child’s resilience, check out www.springboardparenting.com, which is a free online tool that helps parents set goals and measure successes with their child.
Have a great school year!!
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Henry Ford