Getting Your Child Emotionally Ready For School
With schools just around the corner, many parents are becoming preoccupied with getting their kids ready for the new academic year. This includes buying uniforms, stationary and of course the new school bag. While this routine excites children and is by all means necessary, parents fail to acknowledge the most critical form of preparation; the emotional one.
By emotional preparation I specifically mean mapping out what your child can expect from the new school year. This process is overlooked by many and instead it is perceived that children will easily transition smoothly from one year to the next, when this is rarely the case. Once trouble starts, parents begin to question, what went wrong? Why is he acting out this year when he was great the year before? Why is she finding it difficult to make friends now? Why does he hate his new teacher so much?
Children accustom themselves more easily to new situations and events when they know what to expect. Speaking to your child about what to anticipate prior to change allows them to feel more emotionally secure by providing them with stability through a perceived controlled environment. Better yet, if you have the ability to provide visual images before beginning a new school/classroom/teacher, children are more likely to accept and encourage the change by familiarizing themselves with it once put in the situation.
The more detail you can provide the better for your child; down to the nitty-gritties. Here are a few suggestions on what to talk about before your new term begins:
What should your child expect this year at school in academic and social terms. Outline what your child will be exploring in class this year, what new skills they will learn and which friends are continuing with them in class.
“Why” questions are very important to be asked by your child and answered by you. Leave room for their questions, while answering as honestly as possible. Describe why their classroom is changing, why they will be meeting a new teacher this grade and why it will be expected of them to begin doing homework for example.
How will your child be expected to behave this year that is different from the year before? What new responsibilities will she/he have? Are they expected to become more independent than the year before, if so how? How will their routine at home change once school starts?
If I had to pick the MOST important question to ask though it would have to be, ‘How can I help you this school year?’ This question really empowers children to feel belonging and significance within their family. By feeling valued, this encourages children to make more confident day-to-day decisions while ultimately, reciprocating the respect being given to them to those around them. Finally, always end your conversations by reminding your little ones that if they think of any more questions, any at all, you are right here to answer them.
Amina is a child psychologist, parent educator and coach. She is also currently a doctoral researcher in Education at the University of Bath, UK. After completing her masters in child & adolescent psychology, Amina worked with a variety of children ranging from behavioral issues to developmental disorders. Her certifications in positive discipline and parent coaching allow her to form the bridge between parent education and child therapy as she provides tools and proven strategies to empower parents when raising their children. Amina’s goal is to provide her clients with positive parenting tools to create a strong child-parent relationship based on the foundations of love, trust and growth.