Starting School can feel exciting or daunting for your child particularly if they are separating from you for the first time. Some children are eager and ready to begin the next stage of their life, and others find it a daunting experience, filled with worry and anxiety. Dealing with the unknown and feeling out of control can be difficult for many, even those that want to go to school and make friends. With everything being so new, some days may be exciting for your child and other days may be more of a struggle.
It is normal to walk into any new situation and feel some anxiety. Your child might find themselves hot and flustered, struggle with thinking straight or experience ‘butterflies’ in their tummy. Adults can experience the same when starting a new job, moving, or forming new relationships. But don’t forget, adults tend to choose more of these changes, whereas children experience the change happening to them more so.
Your support and guidance make all the difference.
Your child starting school can be a difficult time for you. On the one hand, you might feel good about getting some time back to yourself, and on the other, you might experience some anxiety about your child’s experience of starting school. It may play on your mind how well they will cope with any difficulties they might face. It is also understandable that you might miss your child at times. All of these mixed feelings are completely understandable.
What can you do?
Discuss difficulties with your child to help you work through challenges and find positive solutions. By talking through experiences and feelings your bond will grow. As you talk, you can help each other to work through difficulties and find ways to move forward positively.
Teaching your child to manage their anxieties. By encouraging your child to talk about their feelings, it will help you to understand them and assess their needs. Then you can plan how to work with them in preparation for an easier transition from home to school.
Worry and anxiety can cause children and adults to avoid situations. We want to protect children in every way we can, but in non-threatening situations that involve change, we need to support, reassure, and offer new tools to reach the goal of settling your child into school. It does not help children to encourage them to avoid situations and stay home.
Helping children to manage worries, anxieties, and situations is key.
Teaching your child to face and overcome their fears provides them with evidence to demonstrate that they can cope. Teaching your child to manage their difficulties helps them to overcome all sorts of obstacles in life as they move forward. If your child struggles with the idea of going to school, take time to prepare them with conversations ahead of the change. Then remind them along the way of what they might feel and what they can look forward to. It will help you both immensely in the long run.
Tips to help you prepare your child for school:
- Set and follow a routine at home to prepare them for a school routine
- Have play dates to help socialise your child before they start school
- Role model to your child the things they will need to do when they are on their own
- Encourage your child to ask questions and explore with them
- Visit the school ahead of your child’s first day to make a connection with the teacher
- Give reassurance and talk about any plans the school has to settle them in
- Prepare them for what their day might look like
- Pack their school bag with them
- Explain that once they get used to school, it will feel more comfortable.
Preparation reduces anxiety and can prevent ongoing anxiety problems.
If anxiety persists, please seek help. Ask your Doctor for a referral, school, health visitors.
3 Take aways:
Starting School can feel exciting or daunting for your child and you.
Discuss difficulties with your child to help you work through challenges and find positive solutions.
Teaching your child to face and overcome their fears provides them with evidence to demonstrate that they can cope.
Reflection:What potential difficulties can you discuss with your child to work through the challenges and find positive solutions together?