There is excitement as well as apprehension in the air at the beginning of every school year. For the student, new to school, there is the fear of being left alone by his or her parents in what is essentially a strange new world. For the parents, there is concern that their children will not do well in school and may not be as well prepared as the other students. For the teachers, there is concern that the school year may not go well because of over-crowding, too many demands on their classroom time or not enough resources available to them to do the best for their students.
While all of these concerns are legitimate, adults can be most helpful to the children at this time by de-emphasizing their own fears and concentrating on making the students’ contact with the school comfortable.
For the young child, entering for the first time, it helps for the parents to take the child to see where the school building is before school begins. The child gets the feel for how far the school is from home, the size and approximately where things are located. He also gets feeling of security knowing that his parents know where he is going to be when he is not in their sight.
Children should know their addresses and telephone numbers. They should be able to say their first and last names. I do not think names should be printed on the outside of children’s possessions where any stranger can read them. A child might feel it is all right to go with someone who knows his name. In the same vein, you should establish an agreed upon place where you will pick up the child after school. If he comes home by bus, try to meet him at the bus stop or let him know who will meet him at the bus stop.
Children usually do not like to be interrogated about school. They will tell you what they want you to know in time. Too many questions are a results of the parents’ anxiety and indicate to the child that something is not to the parents’ liking. This may result in the child feeling anxious too. Parents are most helpful if they express by their actions confidence in their child’s ability to handle school successfully.
A nice way to express confidence and support of your child is to ask him if he something to share with you that was fun about school or that he enjoyed. If he expresses many concerns and fears, listen and try to reflect back to the child the emotion he is feeling. It sometimes helps to reminisce about how you felt going to school. Most children simply want a sympathetic ear. It is not necessary for parents to immediately step in and “solve” the “problem”. If you do that the child may not want to tell you anything again.
Try to resist the temptation of going through the child’s school bag the minute he gets in the house. He or she may be bursting to tell you about the friends he made on the playground or how well she kicked the ball at soccer. You cut off that kind of communication when you immediately turn to the academic and express concern because all the words were not spelled correctly. Save that until it is time later to do homework. At that time, you can also ask is there were any notices from school or notes from the teacher.
Given encouragement and a sympathetic adult who listens to them, children are able to resolve initial problems quite well and are on their way to another successful school year.
Give your child a big hug.