As summer changes to autumn and we see the changes in nature, so too, does
life change for a lot of children as they face back to school or indeed go to school
for the very first time.
This can be a scary time for a lot of children and also for some parents’, however
with a little planning and foresight it need not be daunting for our little people!
For a lot of us, routine goes out the window during the summer. No longer are we
governed by the school calendar and we go to work earlier, or later and get home
a little earlier so we can enjoy the fine weather. Kids lie in longer and stay up later.
From next weekend it is time to re- introduce a routine for kids. Begin by getting
them to bed a little earlier every evening and up a little earlier in the morning so
that by the time they are due back to school, the early to bed and up early routine
is not a shock to the system. Primary school children should have at least 12 hours
sleep to keep them at their optimum in school, this avoids tiredness and
crankiness during the day for them. Even adults get cranky when we do not get
enough sleep. Older children should be getting a minimum of eight/nine hours
sleep every night.
Heading to school for the first time:
For a lot of children September will bring a whole new adventure into their lives.
For the first time they will go to school and interact with other children and large
groups be it in playschool or junior infants. I would always suggest to parents that
you role play this with your child. Pick their favourite soft toys and act out what
school will be like. Their favourite teddy can be them and you can introduce teddy
to other teddies, teacher teddy etc. Once kids are familiar with the situation
through play it eases their fears. Forewarned is forearmed as the old saying goes.
This role play is also good when preparing children for a visit to the dentist/doctor
or hospital. Children understand things better through play than all the adult
words we use to explain things. For small children going to playschool or
kindergarten it is ok to let them bring teddy or something familiar. If they carry a
‘blankie’ or ‘feelie’ it is ok to let them take this for a few days if the school is ok with
it. Some schools resist on hygiene grounds.For younger children who are making
the transition from playschool to primary,
again role play and tell them about all the good things that they are going to do at
school. Make your stories about school fun and interesting so that it becomes
something they want to do. Tell them about all the new friends they will make,
games they will play and all the new and wonderful things they will learn.
Primary to Secondary:
For many children this is perhaps the biggest moment of all in their school life.
They go from being the ‘big boys’ and girls’ to being the juniors again.
Couple this with 12/13 year olds being in with 18 year old adults and the thought
becomes even more daunting for them. For a lot of kids, a change in school also
means a change in friends. Sometimes their best friend may go to a different
school and this is hard for them. They mourn the loss of their friends, old school
life and all things familiar. Discuss their concerns with them and reassure them
about how good the experience will be for them. Communication is key and
listening carefully to their concerns will help you manage their fears. Tell them
about the possibility of new friends, games and sports they may not have played
up to now, learning new subjects and the next step in growing up. Make it positive
and be supportive. For them it is a huge life event.
And finally, we come to the dreaded exam years. When one does the leaving cert,
normally the entire house does it. Make sure your teenager has a quiet place to
study at home. Encourage them to prepare a study plan early in the year. Do not
lecture as this is not helpful and only adds to the stress, instead offer helpful
advice and it will be taken when required. Remember they are adults and need to
take responsibility for their lives. By now a lot of them will know what they want
to do and are aware of the work involved to secure the necessary points.
The best time to sit with your teenager and understand their fears is late at night,
just before bedtime. This is when they will open up more. Sit with them, let them
lead the conversation and listen. Offer advice where appropriate but by just
listening and asking open questions such as – ‘and what can you/we do about
that? Or ‘What can I do to help?’ will be hugely beneficial.
Good luck with back to school.
Carbery Coaching provides all types of life and buisness coaching. They specialise in 5 week parent coaching programmes throughout Cork and West Cork over the Winter period.
For more information call 086 2429003 & 087 9815569
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