The beginning of the school year can be stressful for both parents and children. Settling back into school after a long break can be a difficult transition for children, but as the term goes on, most children settle into the routine of school life.
However, for some children, settling into the new term or school can be difficult.
Sydney-based clinical child psychologist Dr Anna Cohen offers strategies below if your child is struggling to cope with the new school term.
“Every child reacts differently to the beginning of term, and it is important to consider it might take your child longer to settle into school,” says the Kids & Co founder.
The start of the term offers a complete change in routine. While you may have been diligent following your child’s routines initially, it is important to make sure you continue these routines as the term goes on. Making sure lunches are organised and bags are all packed for the next day is essential for stress-free mornings.
2. Identify the issue
It is important to identify specific issues that may be contributing to your child’s ability to cope at school. Try talking to your child about school and see if there’s a topic they avoid, such as their schoolwork or friends. You can also approach their teacher and see if they have noticed your child struggling, and discuss what you might be able to do to help. It may be as simple as moving your child seat in class so they are more engaged with the teacher and sitting next to students that they get along with.
3. Supervise them during homework time
Homework can be stressful for both parents and children. For some kids, the pressure of homework can lead to negative feelings towards school. By supervising them while they do their homework, offers an opportunity for you to not only help them out, but also see which subjects they may particularly struggle with. This enables to you to spend more time helping them with those subjects, or possibly organise a tutor and if it’s particularly bad, approach their teachers.
4. Don’t over commit
At the start of the school year, both kids and parents are keen to get into as many activities as they can. But as the year goes on, it is important to consider if you’ve overcommitted your child to too many activities. Talk to your child about their co-curricular activities and identify those that your child isn’t enjoying. Don’t be worried if you think they’re missing out, they can always pick up other co-curricular activities later on.
5. Sensible sleep patterns
A common complaint from children is that they’re too tired. Ensure they are getting to bed on time and be sure to limit screen time before bed. This allows them to feel more relaxed and promotes healthy sleeping habits.
6. Stay positive
As the term continues, both parents and children begin to lose motivation for both work and school. However, it is important to ensure you focus on the positive aspects within your daily life. Instead of getting home and saying “I’m so tired, I’ve had such a long, boring day” say, “Today was difficult but I’m proud of myself for getting all my work done so now I can relax”. This sets a positive example and teaches children to focus on the positive aspects of their day.
7. Know when to seek help
If you feel that your child is suffering from a learning disability or being bullied, it is important to seek help. Arrange a time to speak to teachers to discuss strategies to help your child through this difficult time. Be sure to keep the lines of communications open with your child and reassure them that seeking help is the best way to approach such a situation.
- For more practical parenting advice specifically tailored for 6-12 year olds, pick up a copy of Dr Anna Cohen’s book Parenting Made Easy- The Middle Years at Kids & Co Clinical Psychology, Brays Books and Hill of Content Bookshop Balmain.