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How to help your kids adjust in school

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
02 November 2019   |   4:15 am
The academic term is half way gone and of course it is best to analyse how well your kids are settling down in school. This is quite necessary as it is the first term in a new class.

Photo credit: Parent24

The academic term is half way gone and of course it is best to analyse how well your kids are settling down in school. This is quite necessary as it is the first term in a new class. While some kids have changed school and may be finding it difficult to adjust, every other school child has changed class either by moving into pre-school, primary or secondary and, by extension, being taught by new sets of teachers.

However, adjusting to a new school will require your child to bond properly with the teacher and pupils/students to enjoy their time in school. Here are helpful tips to achieve this:

Help your child bond with her teacher. Kids need to feel connected to an adult they think will keep them safe. So when they are not with their parents, they need to transfer their attachment focus to their teacher, or they are too anxious to settle down and learn. If you notice that your child doesn’t feel good about school, contact the teacher immediately. Just explain that he doesn’t seem to have settled in yet, and you hope she can make a special effort to reach out to him so he feels at home. Any experienced teacher will understand and pay extra attention to him for a bit.

Facilitate bonding with the other kids. Kids need to feel bonded with at least one other child. Ask the teacher if she’s noticed who your child is hanging out with. Ask your child which kids he would like to invite over to play.

For many kids, the biggest challenge is saying goodbye to you. Develop a parting ritual, such as a hug and a saying: “I love you, you love me, have a great day and I’ll pick you up at 3!” Some kids will like a laminated picture of the family in their backpack that they can hold for reassurance if they feel alone.

Help him express his worries and realise that he can handle them. Most school anxiety is caused by worries that adults might find irrational. Support your child to express any worries that are bothering them.

Calm your children’s fears. They are wired to look at their parents for reassurance about what is dangerous or not. So while you are empathic with your child’s concerns, be sure that you’re also expressing confidence that your child will be safe and happy at school.

Help your child laugh out his anxieties so he doesn’t have to cry. Giggling is your child’s way of venting anxiety, and any child who is having a tough school adjustment is feeling anxious and fearful. Give him as many opportunities to giggle as possible.

Be alert for signs about why your child is worried. Most of the time, kids do fine after a few weeks. But occasionally, their unhappiness indicates a more serious issue: he’s being bullied, or can’t see the blackboard, or doesn’t understand anything and is afraid to speak up. Ask calm questions about his day, listen deeply, and reflect what he tells you so he’ll keep talking. Start conversations by reading books about school together.

If your child gets teary when you say goodbye, use your goodbye routine and reassure him that he’ll be fine and you’ll be waiting at the end of the day.

Make sure you’re a few minutes early to pick your child up. This is crucial as coming out of the school and not seeing you immediately will exacerbate any anxieties.

Create a calm household routine with early bedtimes and peaceful mornings. Kids who are not well-rested don’t have the internal resources to cope with the rigours of the school day, so it’s necessary for parents to get to bed early, too, so they can deal calmly with the morning rush and get everyone off to a happy start.