Back to School: Tips for a Smooth Transition
Saying goodbye to the holidays and hello to the new school term/year can be tough on your children (and you!). Here are some fun, practical tips for parents wishing to ease the transition…
Some kids will be happy to go back to school – to see their friends again or enjoy a favourite activity. But for many kids and parents, the thought of going back to school can cause a great deal of anxiety – and even more so if you’re negotiating a family relocation – and all its changes – at the same time.
The key to supporting your child (or children) is to gently move towards the first day of school, introducing practices that create a sense of safety and excitement!
Here are some ways to get started…
So much to look forward to!
Make a point of consistently highlighting all the things that make school appealing. Consider creating a list together – place it somewhere visible – and keep adding to it. Some ideas include: school field trips, old and new friends, a favourite teacher, subject or sport, arts and crafts! There are so many ways to motivate your kids and help them look forward to starting. This is also a chance to reframe school as a blissful and enriching place.
A great study atmosphere
It’s important to get your home ready for the return to school – and in particular to start preparing a comfortable homework area. By doing this together you can make sure it’s aligned with your children’s needs and preferences. Pick out the necessary materials together – from good lightning, to comfortable chairs, to coloured pens and juice cups. Add any elements that help to create a quiet and welcoming place for your child to work. Consider alternative homework spaces too. Occasional homework sessions in the park, library or a tranquil café can add variety to the homework routine. A simple change of scenery is also great for better absorption of information!
While studying hard is important, so is playing hard. Encourage balance in your kids’ lives by establishing a list of activities – small and big, and always meaningful – that can act as reward after a hard study session. Fill a jar with these ideas and get your kids to pick one randomly, after successfully completing homework.
Start working on a school sleep routine in advance. It’s normal for kids to go to bed later over the holidays, but we all know this can become an issue when school begins, and early mornings set in. A few weeks before, begin to phase in earlier nights – just 10 minutes earlier each time will do the trick. Combine bedtime with an enjoyable (relaxing) activity, like storytelling, to help prevent nagging and arguments.
It’s a good idea, especially in the case of first graders, to explore the school with your child beforehand. Check out the school grounds and any facilities that will be a part of your child’s school life, such as the classroom, toilets, lunch cafeteria, sports grounds and school counsellor’s office.
Even if it’s not possible to be home during the initial back-to-school period because of other responsibilities, try to spend some time every day discussing the school day with your child. Be extra aware of their joys, successes and troubles (e.g. a difficult lesson, problem with a bully). This will help to establish a safe environment out of school and allow you to support your child with any school anxiety.
Seek counselling for your child if necessary
If your child is struggling to adapt, counselling can give him/her the opportunity to discuss any concerns with an empathetic, non-judgmental listener (find for more info on our services for expat teens).
And what about you as a parent?
Smoothing out the back-to-school period can be stressful for parents too. With a bit of organization, positivity and consistent communication, the start of school can become more enjoyable experience for everyone. Don’t forget to treat yourself too, for every effort made and for every achievement! You’ve got this! 🙂
With thanks to Dimiliana Nikiforou for her contribution to this article.
How do YOU help your kids transition smoothly back to school? Simply comment below – we’d love to hear your creative ideas and solutions! Like this article? Sign up for our fortnightly newsletter, which is packed with useful tips and inspiration for your expat journey.