I appreciate the dialogue I have had with some of our families this week about the emotions we all feel this time of the year. They are varied from child to child and home to home. We also understand that for some children, this is a time when they may be feeling a range of emotions including nervousness. Please know that nervousness is normal. As a parent or guardian you are not alone if your child is expressing apprehension about the start of the school year. Knowing they have you in their lives to help them with the transition will go a long way in the long run. If you are looking for some tips for transitioning your child back to school, you may find these helpful:
- Listen and acknowledge your child’s concerns. Just know that you don’t have to have all the answers. As parents and guardians, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we see that our child isn’t happy. Sometimes, all a child needs is to know they can talk and that you will hear them.
- When a child expresses a concern we want to acknowledge it but we also want to try to support children in finding possible strategies to approach the problem. For example, if a child says “what if I can’t find my new classroom after lunch?”, we could ask them “that may happen, but who could you go to for help if it does?” At our school, we want children to feel they can go to any staff member and ask for help if needed. Supporting children in finding their voice in working through their concerns can help ease their minds while also empowering them.
- Routines go a long way. Now is a good time to establish bedtime routines, morning routines and begin talking about what a school day may look like.
- Visit the school yard and take a picture if you like. Talk to your child about the new school year.
- Practice goodbyes. For example, if grandma is looking after your child, let him/her visit and stay while you leave just like you would for work.
- Highlight the positives as much as you can.
- A trip to the local library may help. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg; The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing; The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing; I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas; Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate; The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn are great books to support children who are nervous. (Referenced from Dr. Michele Borba and Sasha Emmons)
- We often think children need lots of friends to feel safe and included. In fact, children often need just one good friend. If you can connect with someone in the community who also has a child attending our school this may help. Even if they are not in the same class, they will see each other in the school at break time such as recesses.
- We are fortunate to have many of staff returning for our third year of school who can help out and reassure. Yes, your child’s homeroom teacher is their main point of contact. However, I have many examples that I have witnessed of our staff supporting children they do not directly teach…it is a great team!
- If it helps, you can feel free to let them know that even Mr. Collins the principal is nervous. 🙂 It is important for children to see that nervousness is a human emotion that we can all experience and that is OK to feel this.
Finally, if after a few days you find your child is still feeling anxious talk to us. Let your child’s teacher know so we can develop some strategies together.
The good news is, I have many examples of children who were nervous on Day One but who settled in quickly.