This week, children across the country will be returning to school after the long summer holiday. Although a time of excitement for many keen to get back to see their friends and share stories of the summer break, for many - particularly those heading to school for the first time - it can be a time of anxiety - not only for the child but for parents too!
Here are my tips for helping parents help their children on their way:
- Listen to their Concerns
Starting school for the first time is one of the biggest things in an individual's life - and for someone so young the biggest thing so far! Try not to be anxious about it as your child will pick up on this and be anxious too; instead be super excited about this new stage in their life and celebrate their success once they've got through day one, and then week one. If they are worried about anything, talk to them and listen to their concerns and reassure them they have nothing to worry about.
- Give them independence
A little bit of independence can go a long way in preparing a child to be ready for school. Things like putting on their coat, taking off their jumper and managing socks and shoes can seem small but will be enormous in their first week of school if they can't do it and their fellow pupils can. Encourage your child to master these skills at home to ensure they are confident and don't feel anxious about doing it without you there!
- Make friends with their friends' parents
Once your child has made friends really get to know them and make an effort with their parents. Arrange play dates where you can share the load in childcare - and make friends with others who you will have a lot in common with! Having friends is one of the most important thing for children to help them settle into a new environment and so support them as much as possible.
- Seek out hobbies for your child so school isn't the be-all and end-all
School can cause a lot of pressure for children, particularly those going through years with tests in them so seek out hobbies for your child to help them let off steam. You will know what activities they like the most but encourage them to try as much as possible - from ballet to football, art to girl guides! By doing activities after school they will meet new friends and gain confidence in new things they may not be able to try in the school day that will help them later in life.
- Help yourself with homework
For many parents, homework is one of the biggest worries on the return to school - either encouraging their child to get it done, or helping them along the way, particularly amongst those parents who may not feel 100% confident in their own abilities. Talk to your teacher about any concerns you have around the current curriculum, or sign up to your local Explore Learning who hold parent-tutor sessions, helping parents to be up to speed on children's learning today, ensuring they are helping their children in the correct way.
- Consider extra tuition
The leap from one year to the next can be incredibly daunting so if after a few weeks your child is struggling in certain areas of maths or English seek out extra tuition. Chat to their teacher about how they're going and if tuition could be beneficial. It's about raising confidence and helping a child feel happier at school knowing they are achieving the best they can. It's also fantastic for those children who want to be pushed that little bit harder outside of the classroom and is often more affordable than you think!