Is your child starting a new school in September?
Do you remember, as a child, how you felt on the last day of the summer holidays? Perhaps there was a feeling of excitement about seeing your school friends again, looking forward to getting back in to the school routine or perhaps getting a new pair of school shoes (that was the bit I always looked forward to). Or perhaps, as was often the case for me, there was a mixture of disappointment that the summer holidays were over and a certain level of anxiety about all the changes you were about to face; a new teacher, new children and in some cases…a completely new school!
What kind of school changes are your children facing this September? For our family, this year, September really is one of big change all round:
-The eldest has just finished his A-levels and will be going off to university
-Our second child is moving in to her final year of A-levels, but as she boards in a special Performing Arts college, next year will be a big transition from college dorms to outside accommodation
- Our third child has got a place at a music college which takes him too far away to commute, so he’ll be moving to his grandparents
- And our youngest is making that big transition from primary to secondary school!
For any child, September means lots of change, whether they’re changing schools or not. Just the fact that they are transitioning from six lovely, long summer weeks at home with family, back to the school environment, is a big enough change in itself.
As parents, it can both a busy and emotional time for us too! Particularly when we have our own business to add to the mix of responsibilities, as we get our children prepared…logistically, mentally and emotionally for the start of this exciting new chapter in their school lives.
If I could give one single piece of advice for helping children (and parents) cope with all the imminent changes, what would it be?…
…Communication, communication, communication!
My Top Tip to help children (and parents) deal with any potential anxiety around going back to school would simply be to “Talk about it!”
It sounds so obvious doesn’t it, but it’s so important to talk to your children about going back to school and the changes on the horizon. Checking how our children are feeling about the upcoming changes is just as important as the less ‘touchy feely’ stuff, like sorting out the new school uniform.
No matter what your child’s age your child, it’s important to create that opportunity for them to share what they are thinking and feeling, and to hold that space for them to express both the positive emotions and, of course, any potential worries. Of course, the conversations need to be age-appropriate; if you have a younger child starting nursery they might better express what they are feeling through play, or perhaps by listening to a story and looking at pictures on a school related children’s book. At the other end of the spectrum, some preteens teenagers may not find it easy to open up (especially if you don’t already have that kind of open relationship with them), but choosing a good moment when they are most open to listening to you can be enough for you to let them know that any worry they might be feeling is normal and that you are there for them if they need someone to talk to. Reminding them who they can turn to at the school during the first few weeks of school is also a good idea. If your child is changing schools this Septemeber, they will probably have already had a few transition days, spending time at the new school, and if it’s a secondary school you may well have already visited the new school yourself, so you’ll be able to remind them of all the useful pointers the school has already given to make their transition as smooth and easy as possible.
The simple act of verbalising concerns and worries can really help to reduce anxiety levels. Don’t leave it to the last night to start having this conversation. Perhaps sow some seeds earlier on in the school holidays, so that together, you can start to talk about it whilst they are still in a more relaxed ‘holiday-mode’.
And of course, don’t forget about YOU! As Mums, it’s easy for us to worry for our children, particularly when they are about to take big, and sometimes challenging, steps in the big wide world. If you are feeling worried or anxious about how your child will cope with their new school, new classroom, new peers….make sure you find someone that you can talk to, school staff, your partner, a family member, a friend (who has perhaps been through the same experience as you with her own children).
Of course, with over 300 supportive and like-minded mums who’ve been through, or who are going through, similar experiences, the CEO Mums Business Club’s online group is also a great place to get support, for both Business and Parenting related topics, like this one. It’s totally free to join, so if you’re not already a member, join us today!