For your child, it means going to a new classroom, seeing new classmates and being greeted by a new teacher. Even if your child has already attended school the previous year, a new school year will still bring back the usual anxieties: Will the new teacher like me?, Who will play with me during recess? Will school work be difficult? The list goes on.
As a mother, you have your fair share of new hopes and anxieties too. You wonder if your child will be able to adjust to the new curriculum and be happy in school. You hope that your child will like school, play and learn well. Often you would ask yourself how you could make the new year a better school year. Consider these tips to prepare your child emotionally and physically for a great start of the school year:
- Ease the anxiety
If your child is starting school for the first time, check out if there is an orientation programme. This is the best opportunity to meet your child’s new teacher and help your child get familiarised with the school environment. Explore the playground, the classrooms, the activity rooms and the garden. Touring the school premises can help allay your child’s fear of an unfamiliar environment and whatever preconceived notions about school.
- Play a game
If your child is going back to the same school, you can still explore the premises together. Visit your child’s previous classroom, look at the decorations and classroom learning resources pinned on the walls. It can be a time of fond recollections. Then ask your child to guess where the new classroom would likely to be. Allow a few guesses. This little guessing game can also stimulate your child to look forward to the first day at school. But what if your child gets all the guesses wrong?
- Some things do go wrong
One of the best ways to help children build self-confidence is to allow them to make mistakes. Tell your child that it is normal for everybody to make mistakes – some are serious and some are not. Serious mistakes bring unpleasant consequences. If your child makes a serious mistake, he/she must first acknowledge it and learn not to repeat the same serious mistake. If it is a non-serious mistake like guessing the wrong answers in a fun game, it is all right to just laugh over it. But if your child wants to ponder over some telltale clues that have been missed out, encourage this initiative.
- Develop sense of humour
Help your child see the funny side of life. Share your own school experiences, the fun activities you loved and what made your life in school so special and memorable. Children love hearing stories and when they hear you recalling with passion and humour, they are more likely to be excited about going to school. When laughter is shared, it binds you and your child together and increases the level of happiness . Your stories can also become a springboard for your child to ask questions and share more of his/her thoughts and feelings with you. You can get a better understanding of your child’s needs too.
- A good night’s sleep
Prepare your child physically for school by ensuring a good night’s sleep. Children who do not sleep well wake up tired and this is going to affect their day in school. They lose mental alertness, make mistakes in their schoolwork, become too lethargic to enjoy playtime or get into unnecessary squabbles with their peers. To avoid such painful experiences, set a specific time when your child should be in bed and practise this bedtime routine at least a week before the new school year commences. Young children need at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day. Jill Spivack, LCSW, co-author of ‘The Sleepeasy Solution, The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep’, advises that “sleep nutrition is as important as food nutrition and that a lack of sleep can have major consequence.”
- Rise and Shine
Try a creative approach with your child by combining breathing and movement exercises to wake up the whole body. Marsha Wenig, founder of YogaKids International, has these steps to teach: Stand up tall. Breathe in as you reach up high with one of your hands and grab a piece of sunshine. Pull it down to your belly as you exhale and say, “Hah!” Repeat several times, alternating hands. It is a great way to start the day!
- Make mornings organised
Avoid the morning rush and unnecessary stress by getting your child’s clothes, school bag and water bottle all prepared the night before. Children are observant and sensitive to their environment. When they see their parents frantically getting things done at the last minute, nagging and hurrying them, children do get all stressed up even before they set foot in school. Imagine their frustrations having to go through such ordeals every day! You can’t blame them for disliking school.
- Eat a good breakfast
This is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that that if children eat a healthy nutritious breakfast they perform better than children who do not. Choose food rich in whole grains, fibre andprotein but low in added sugar to boost your child’s attention span, concentration and memory, all of which are needed for learning in school. Try making breakfast appealing like adding pieces of fresh fruit, which is also a good source of Vitamin C.
- Happy at school
Children look forward to school when they experience a sense of belonging. They feel secure when they know that their teachers like them and their classmates are friendly. Julia Cook, author of ‘Making Friends is an Art!’ emphasises that friendships are very important when it comes to emotional health. Help your child develop social-emotional skills. Teach him/her about sharing, respect for others, making simple conversations and interacting in play groups.
- Problems with schoolwork
Sometimes, schoolwork turns out to be challenging and your child may have difficulty keeping up with the rest of the class. Left unchecked, there is possibility of developing feelings of inferiority and a dislike for school. Many kids don’t talk about their schoolwork problems so it is important that you monitor if there is any disruptive behavioural change – Is your child showing signs of irritation or boredom?
- Make contact with your child’s teacher
Find out from your child’s tea`cher if there is any schoolwork problem and discuss how you can help to provide home support. Even if your child does not have any learning difficulties or special needs, it is always a good idea to get acquainted with your child’s teacher and set up some appointments to review your child’s adjustments and progress in school. Make your child’s school year a better one by initiating this arrangement at the beginning of the year.
- Make homework fun
Some schools give children homework as part of learning reinforcement although this may not be on a daily basis. You might also want to give some form of learning extension to your child but want something more refreshing and interactive. Have you heard of the brand new ‘EFI Early Readers’?
EFI Early Readers guide your child’s learning and development in a fun and engaging manner. Recognising the importance of reading as the foundation for your child’s education and a life-long skill, EFI Early Readers offer box sets of interesting stories complete with rich illustrations and learning activities. Available on print and mobile devices, including iPads/ Android tablets, the digital version is enhanced with narrated text, fun characters, animations, music and sound effects. Check it out and give your child a refreshing and inspirational start to a better school year!
To find out more about EFI Early Readers visit us at www.earlyreaders.com.sg or scan the QR Code now to download the eBook.