You did your homework, got everything prepared, and you both survived the first day of school. But what now? Our Art Therapist Anna Storch shares her tips, and the number one issue she helps children deal with.
“Now your child has started school, your new routine will need a lot of energy. They will probably be facing a whole new set of rules and academic demands that they will need to learn – even just having to line up quietly is probably completely new to them! It’s a huge emotional and practical lifestyle change, and it will take time to adjust.
1. Get plenty of rest
"With all these new challenges, it’s wise to make sure your child has plenty of rest after school and on weekends. Probably best to leave any adventure-filled weekends away until your child is used to the school routine!
2. Establish your evening routine
"If possible, try to keep your evening routines consistent so your child knows what to expect. This should enable them to fully relax and feel secure at home and allow them to mentally prepare for the next school day.
3. Give them a little leeway
"Some children find that school gives them a sense of independence and a new-found confidence while others may feel a bit overwhelmed by it all and regress to their younger selves. However your child reacts to the school experience, have patience and understanding. Maintain your usual boundaries and rules at home but give them a little leeway in the first few weeks.
4. Explain the day in chunks
"If you find your child is becoming anxious at drop off and doesn't want you to leave, don't be alarmed, this is common. A school day is a long time to be away from you, and for some children this is a frightening prospect. Telling your child that you'll be back to get them at the end of the day isn't often very reassuring. Try telling them that first they will have play, then reading, then lunch, then writing and more play and then you'll be there. Count the segments of the day on your hand as you go.
5. Use drop off distractions
"Try to remain calm and positive - talk to them about who they will play with and all the fun toys and games in their class. You could try bringing some humour into the conversation to distract them. For example, ask them: if they had a magic wand what would they have in their playground - a little house made of sweets? A giant pink bouncy castle? Puppies?!
6. Keep questions simple
"As much as you are desperate to know every detail of their first school days, avoid grilling your child but instead ask a few simple questions. General questions are harder for a young child to answer so instead of 'How was your day' try, 'what was your favourite part of the day?' or 'what made you laugh today?'. Let them know that you are there to listen and to help if they need it.
7. Face challenges together
"If your child shares a problem with you, try to stay calm and work with your child and to find a solution. As a school counsellor I know that playground bickering is common. It is tempting to wade in and sort arguments out ourselves but by doing this we are denying children the opportunity to learn to resolve conflict themselves.
"The number one issue I deal with is children feeling that a close friend is drifting away and becoming friends with someone else. Childhood friendships are temperamental and disputes are inevitable. Some issues can seem quite insignificant but to a child they can be huge. Support and guide your child through it – in most cases it will be forgotten in a few days. If you feel that a playground argument is getting out of hand or that it may be turning into bullying, speak to your child's teacher or the head teacher.”
If you would like to make an appointment with Anna, or speak to her about your concerns, please call us on 0208 6737930.