Most of us will know the struggle of getting back into routine after the holidays.
Whether it’s struggling to get up when the alarm goes off... for the third time.
Wearing your moccasins as you walk out the door.
Or forgetting lunch on the kitchen counter.
It can take time for us to get back into the full swing of things, and it’s no different for kids and teens as they head back to school.
Many children will need support as they head back to school
Starting back at school can be really quite daunting.
One of the big issues is that there are many unknowns for the year ahead - classes, subjects, friends, teachers and work load will always change from year to year.
Establishing familiarity and routines can help to ease worries, but remember we can’t solve everything for our children – we can only give them the skills and teach them the resilience they need to get through the tough times.
So here are some tips and tricks you can use to help your child on their journey back to school.
My child is anxious
There are two strategies that can help here – easing their anxiety and creating excitement.
If you notice that your child is anxious or stressed about going back to school, first ask them about it and see what you can do to help.
- If they’re worried about not seeing their friends from last year, tell them they can organise playdates afterschool or on weekends, and reassure them that they can make new friends!
- Start filling out a calendar together that includes their weekly sporting activities and playdates, and plan some family outings they can look forward to.
- School-permitting, let your child choose clothing accessories to wear each day, like hair ties and headbands.
- Apps like Headspace, Calm, and Smiling Mind are helpful for easing anxiety and other difficult emotions, or to help ease worrying thoughts before sleeping.
My child is struggling to stay organised
Forgetting books at home, arriving at school late and having unfinished homework are all normal parts of a school experience, but having a suitable routine can help minimise their occurance.
- Download free planning apps like School Planner or myHomework Student Planner that can help your child organise their timetable, homework and downtime. Consider sitting down with them to help them plan out their schedule.
- Let children choose the stationery and/or planner they’re excited to use.
- Get your child used to packing their bag the night before school, to reduce the stressful rush in the mornings. You can do the packing together, and use the time to ask about their school day and what they enjoyed the most.
I can’t get my child to attend school
If your child is regularly crying before school, won’t get in (or out) of the car, or won’t even leave the house, there may be a more serious problem at hand.
Your child may be worried about something in their school environment, or they may even be worried about something that’s currently happening at home, such as an illness, family separation, or the loss of a loved one.
- Ask your child if they’re worried or scared about something. They may not tell you directly, or they may not tell you at all – but you can let them know that you’re there to support them.
- Discuss who your child can talk to if they’re feeling anxious or upset at school. It can put them at ease if they know who their go-to people are.
- Speak to your child’s school to ask for support and keep them in the loop. Together you might be able to figure out how to ease your child’s concerns and get them back into the classroom.
If your child is missing out on school for more than a period of one to two weeks, this may be a sign that they are in need of professional support.
Your school may offer an on-site counsellor, or you can call CatholicCare on 9287 5555 to enquire about counselling or School Refusal Support.
Liz Gellel - Communications Coordinator