Starting the new school year can be a time of great excitement but can also create a great deal of anxiety for kids and their parents. A new school year means a new grade, new teachers, new goals, and maybe even a new school. Alyson Schafer, family therapist, best-selling author and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts provides these tips for to help your child feel more confident at each stage of their education:
Tips for kindergarten
Be positive. Children are attuned to your mood whether you realize it or not. Keeping a positive attitude around your child will help them stay positive too. Additionally, being extra positive when referring to their new teacher will help build trust between him or her and your child.
Minimize drop-off drama. See if a friend they already know is in their class and arrange for them to enter the class together. Expect tears but re-assure them you will be back at the end of the day. Delaying your exit will only drag on the drama. Make it a happy, snappy goodbye and your child will soon forget you’re gone!
Don’t be late for pick-up. Kids can get anxious when there is no one there to pick them up. Avoid this issue altogether by making sure you show up on time (or even early) at the end of the day.
Tips for high school
Build organizational skills. Show them how to organize themselves rather than you nagging them. Guide them in the right direction when it comes to time management, but remember that high school should be more hands-off for parents. Post-it Notes, Flags and Tabs are great tools to help keep your kids organized.
Arm them with organizational supplies. Items like an agenda, an inbox to drop of school paper work or a family calendar are great tools for high school students to have. Post-it makes a great calendar that I recommend because it allocates a space for each family member in order to keep track of everyone’s schedule in one place. Another great thing about this calendar is that it comes loaded with Super Sticky Post-it notes so the kids can leave their own reminders around the house instead of relying on you.
Tips for switching to a new school
Deal with fear. Regardless of age, new experiences can be scary. Make sure to normalize your child’s fears and share a story of how you coped with a similar situation.
Get to the bottom of the fear. Find out if there is something specific that is making them anxious. Once you know the reason, it is much easier to squash their fear.
Find a solution. If you child is scared of making new friends, you can practice what they’ll say at a new lunch table. If they are scared of getting lost, you can print out a map of the school, mark their classrooms and practice the route. Repetition is key to making them feel comfortable.