In Queensland, this week is the first week of the 2019 school year. For first-time students and returning students, the start of the school year is a busy time filled with excitement, and perhaps a little dread as well. The team at Scope have put together a list of back to school tips for educational confidence.
For the first-time student…
Sending your little one to school for the first time is both an exciting but nerve-wracking prospect. It’s a brand new experience for you both! Here are some ways to make the transition as easy as possible.
- Choose a book with a storyline about school to read to your child. This can be a fun and relaxed way to open a conversation about procedures and rules.
- Consider explaining to your child some of the basic school rules that they will be expected to follow. For example, you may explain that they must first raise their hand and ask the teacher if they would like to go to the bathroom. It is assumed that the teacher will cover these rules as well, but hearing them explained by Mum or Dad first may make the whole experience less overwhelming.
- Get them to help label their lunchbox and stationery items. This will familiarise them with their own belongings and also hopefully build excitement for the big day that is approaching.
- If permitted, consider taking your child on a walk through the school before they start. Ensure they know where you will pick them up from and who to speak to if they ever cannot find you. Perhaps even practice walking to the gate and sending them off to prepare for their first day.
- When the first day does arrive, try to maintain your composure. You will likely be a little scared of the unknown and nervous to send your son or daughter off into the big, wide world of school. If you show them that school is something to be excited about, they are likely to view it favourably as well. If you’re concerned about separation worries and anxiety, try reading our book “Under the Love Umbrella“.
- To make send-off a little easier, consider creating a unique goodbye for you and your little one to do together, such as a fun, secret handshake that only the two of you know.
For the returning student…
After enjoying freedom for over a month, a returning student may feel just as nervous about recommencing school. It’s important to make your child feel supported, no matter the age.
- Encourage a positive and accepting attitude towards achievement of all kinds. Remind your kids that people have strengths in all different areas, not always academic! This will assist with reducing worries about school work and promote willingness to engage with learning by reducing a fear of ‘failure’. Our book “All the Ways to be Smart” is a beautiful resource for this discussion.
- Depending on their age, begin enforcing school-appropriate bedtimes in the week or so leading up to the first day back. A good night’s sleep is important for concentration as well as general health and wellbeing.
- If your son or daughter is starting high school or a new school, familiarise yourself with their teacher and year level coordinator. Ensure they know any relevant details about the way your child learns and encourage them to contact you if there are any concerns.
- Offer to help them with homework or study. Everyone learns differently and they may require someone to proofread their work or practice an oral presentation in front of. It may also be beneficial for the student to simply explain new concepts verbally to you, in order to solidify their own knowledge. You may also like to ask them deeper questions about the topic to encourage them to research themselves to further broaden their understanding.
- Ask your child if there is anything that is making their school life unnecessarily stressful and how you can help. For myself, I struggled for years with my eyesight and could rarely see the board. This was a source of great anxiety for me and I would occasionally even fake an illness if I knew that I was seated at the back of a class that used a projector screen. Encourage open communication. You may not be able to solve all of their problems, but you can help make an action plan to better deal with them.
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- Beyond Blue. (n.d.) Tackling back-to-school anxiety. Retrieved from https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/mental-health-conditions-in-children/anxiety/tackling-back-to-school-anxiety
- Child Mind Institute. (n.d.) Back to school anxiety. Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/
- Queensland Government. 2018. Preparing your child for Prep. Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/education/earlychildhood/prep/preparing
- Raising Children Network. (2018). Starting school: preparing your child. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/school-choosing-starting-moving/starting-school
- Raising Children Network. (2019). Tackling fear of the unknown helps first day of school nerves. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/about-us/media/media-releases/tackling-fear-of-the-unknown-helps-reduce-first-day-of-school-nerves