With a new backpack and lunch kit just waiting to be filled (or at least on the 'to buy' list), and a couple of play dates with school-friends over the past few weeks, the 'buzz of school' is in the air.
You may even notice your children playing ‘school’ with their toys and talking about other friends they haven’t seen in a lonnnnnngggggg time.
Awesome! These are all positive signs that kids are looking forward to the new beginning they know is coming, and hopes are high that the ‘other’ aspect about school starting won’t be an issue: the Transition Turbulence (known to surface the first day, week, or even first month of school).
Well, you’re prepared with school supplies, and you’ll feel equally prepared (mentally & emotionally) with the quick 6 ideasbelow to create a less-stressed experience for your pint-sized pupil, the family, and for you.
I. HAVE ‘THE CHAT’ Whenever I had to discuss something with my daughter that I knew wouldn’t be high on her ‘fun stuff to talk about’ list, I would plan a bit of a treat – a quick burrito lunch out, or going for a sweet treat – and then just as she was savouring the yumminess, I’d broach the subject on the agenda.
Although kids may seem excited about school, when the rush and excitement of the big day finally arrives, it may unexpectedly wind up being wrought with more separation anxiety than anyone could foresee through summer's haze.
It’s such a big step for little ones to be venturing out of the house for the first time; it's not surprising that even the start to 'year 2’ can be a challenge, with children knowing what’s coming and feeling anxious with the return of the School Blues sequel.
Choosing times to chat about the possible upcoming challenges while still enjoying the lazy days of summer can go a long way. And when the issues do arise, you’ll have a point of reference of being able to say, “Remember when we talked about this and you said it was going to be alright? Well it’s still alright, and we’ll get through this, ok? Together.”
2. GET UP EARLY Summer’s great but it sure throws the colossal wrench into the routine you’ve worked so hard to establish. If there is a routine in place, of course it’ll be that much easier to pick up where you left off (yikes get cracking!?)
Making this part of ‘the chat’ will help put a new routine in motion, followed by a gradual programming toward an earlier rising time. Experts say even 15 minutes earlier bedtime / wake up, incrementally, will make a difference (ideally over the span of one month if your child is in the habit of staying up waaaaaay past their bedtime). (Click here for more info - scroll to "Step Three").
3. BRING A COMFORT OBJECT Giving children something tangible to remind them of you can be just the thing to calm tension throughout the morning in the classroom.
Try a family picture (that you don’t mind being folded and/or passed around); a cut-out paper heart you’ve spent time colouring together, or a kiss on a tissue/small scarf/pocket square with a spritz of your perfume to pull out any time the ‘lonelies’ arise.
4. ARRIVE FASHIONABLY EARLY Stay accountable with a little 'morning enjoyment' incentive for both of you -- make a Playground Plan with the parent of your child’s friend(s) to allow for a 15-minute mini play/coffee date before the school doors open (of course that may mean even earlier to beat the drive-thru line...)
5. KEEP YOUR ‘HAPPY CLOWN MASK’ ON At any given moment the morning of school, each angry, echoing “No!” you hear from your child has a way of etching yet another furrow in your already scrunched brow (unbeknownst to you, but a blatant focal point for your child).
Keeping up appearances (and staying composed) during these times feels almost impossible but also keeping in mind that our facial expression is our child’s visual clue as to how stressful the situation really is or isn’t, may help in reminding us to take that deep breath, ease the clenched face and turn the frown upside down.
6. HUG AND GO Hands down the most important out of the bunch. You’ve done your best to get to the morning greeting -- now smile, hug, and just skidaddle! You’ve had ‘the chat’ and your child knows the deal.
It may seem abrupt, but the message you're giving that it's a safe place to stay is what your child needs in that moment. Hanging around on your part prolongs the crying on their part. Period. 99% of the time they've wiped away their tears within the five minutes after you've gone.
Seriously, the minute Mom & Dad are no longer part of the scene, 'school's social sircus' is usually the perfect distraction. (Keep the big picture, not the anxiety the focus, and it WILL get easier.)
The following are a couple related articles suggesting realistic ideas definitely worthy for the School Survival tool box.