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Every parent parent likes to think that their child will take to school like a duck to water, but the fact is, those first few weeks can be quite unsettling for both children and parents. Getting used to the new routine, learning to make friends, coping with long days and homework, all these things can take their toll on little minds and there are bound to be a few ups and downs along the way. But there are a few simple techniques that you can use to make life a little easier and speed up the adjustment period. We had a chat with Rachel Hirst, founder of parenting and lifestyle site, Umeandthekids, to get a few words of advice on how to help your child settle into school.
Rachel is a mum of two boys, who blogs at parenting and lifestyle site, Umeandthekids, talking about everything from breastfeeding to drug awareness and anti-bullying. Rachel has worked with children in a primary school, taught baby massage to mums and more recently worked as a Neighbourhood Community Manager at Madeformums.
Rachel’s time is now dedicated to her blog, family and her passion for Tweeting day or night! In her words, “Umeandthekids is an outlet, something of my own so that I can let the world know my thoughts, feelings, tips and decisions throughout my daily life”.
When your child starts school whether it is for the first time or they have just moved up a year, it heralds a big change in their life and anything you can do to help smooth the transition will be very beneficial. They’ll be learning to cope with a lot of new changes; from early morning starts, homework, following school rules and getting used to a new teacher, all of which will have an effect on their behaviour and mood.
Here are a few quick tips to help your child settle into their school surroundings as pain free as possible for the both of you. My children have done this so many times now, it just does not seem to get any easier, but there are things you can do to help the stresses and strains ease up a little.
Helping your child make friends
As a mum, there is nothing worse than when your child comes home from school and tells you they do not have any friends and no one wants to play with them in the playground. You imagine them all alone walking around the schoolyard feeling left out, you generally feel there is nothing you can do to help and it is awful. Do not worry though because the positive thing is you can, you can give your child the tools to be social, teach them how to communicate, share and have empathy.
Show your child how to make friends, learn how to build friendships and this will create an emotionally well-rounded child who finds it easier to make friends and keep them.
One thing I used to do is I asked my children to invite people from their school class home. We had a little Back to School party, which really did go down well with the kids and their parents. I have actually made many friends from my children’s schools over the years, so not only does your child benefit, but you do too.
Building a routine
After a school holiday filled with late nights and lazy mornings, building a strong routine for back to school is necessary. Your child may try to fight routine at first, so preparing them by doing a trial run of the school morning is a great idea, just so you can work out how long you will need on a morning.
Bedtime rules apply
Try to stick to a bedtime, which is the same for each night. Be prepared that for the first week or two your child may find it hard to go to sleep, which will then make it even harder to wake up those weary and tired heads up on a morning. Pretty short of a miracle, you cannot always control this, but you can help your child out with some simple ideas.
Restful minds for a restful nights sleep
Before bed make sure your children’s minds are resting so no computers at least 1 hour before its lights out. A simple bath and resting in bed with a glass of milk and biscuit can really make your child feel content. Pick a soothing bedtime story and read gently to your child, which in most cases will help them drift off to the land of nod.
Alarm clocks everywhere
Well, maybe not everywhere, but by placing alarm clocks in each bedroom set 15 minutes earlier than the time you need to get up, doing this will help wake everyone up on a morning on time. You do not want to be late on the first day, and you certainly do not want your children walking into their shiny new class rooms feeling tired and un-refreshed.
Healthy & filling breakfast
Giving your child, a healthy and filling breakfast can help brighten their moods, and keep them going throughout the school morning helping their concentration levels. Remember, kids cannot just snack when they feel like it during class.
A little more lunch
If your child takes a packed lunch, then for the first few weeks they may require an extra item or two in their lunch box to keep them focused. Do not overfill the lunch with sugary snacks and drinks; instead fill their packed lunch with healthy fruit and vegetable sticks, bagels, wraps and maybe an odd treat, but nothing more than that!
School clothing preparation
I always have all the school uniforms including socks and underwear laid out the night before school. I personally check my children’s bags are packed with their school equipment, just so they are not caught out. I also prepare packed lunch the night before to ensure this is placed in their bags before the set off on their daily school journey. I love to do anything I can to ease the pressure on a morning, so no one feels stressed out at all.
Snacks for your child’s return
Have small easy to ‘grab snacks’ made up in advance of your child getting home from school. Place them in the fridge ready for when the hungry little monsters return from school telling you they are “Starving”.
Help your child with their learning
When young children start school for the first time they will be learning things for the first time, help your child really engage and get the most out of their education by practicing a few simple things at home.
Reception & primary age children
Reception & primary age children need to learn the basics. So make sure you begin to read and count with your children. Do not stop there teach your children the time, show them how to tie their shoe laces, show them how to get dressed. Just remember reception can be a daunting experience, the more time you put in, in most cases your child will progress far easier. Make everything fun and keep nice and calm as your child learns the basics from you, everyone learns things at different speeds.
When your children reach Year One learning steps up a little, but by sticking to the basics your child will be able to cope with most transitions. I would also add timetables, mathematics and spelling to your child’s learning too. All of this may well seem a lot to begin to teach your child, but I promise you it will help your little ones more than you would ever know. I purchased books online, they were amazing to sit and go through all of the above subjects; the books did not just teach the kids they helped me get my head around things too.
So remember your child will not be the first to experience any of this and there is always someone to talk to and ask for help. If it is not a friend, teacher or a family member, you are more than welcome to head on over to my blog at Umeandthekids, please feel free to stop by and contact me.