"Providing you with tips and expert advice on helping your child get ready for Big School"
The first few days of school were a breeze. You were organised, the kids were excited and many cherished family moments were instragrammed when your happy, glad-to-be in school children literally skipped themselves into class.
It's week two and there's mayhem - backpacks are not packed, mysterious illnesses raise their ugly heads, the novelty of the first few days of school has worn off and no one wants to step into school. Your morning routine has been disrupted and your good humour is flying out the window.
In these stressful moments, it is quite easy to lose your temper and force the children into sorting themselves out. Yes, they will go to school that day, but your long term problem won’t be solved; it will come back the next day angrier, stronger and more ill-willed. The trick is to find a solution that works!
As Malathi Kahandaliyanage, Consultant Education and Behaviour Therapist advises,
“Any unusual behaviour displayed by your child is a way of communicating that he/she does not want to go to school. This is because there is something going on in your child's mind that he/she is trying to communicate with you. School refusal is when a child gets extremely upset at the idea of going to school. Children who refuse to go to school usually spend the day at home with their parents which is what the child wants. To feel safe and not be challenged to do new things.”
Motivation and the promise of a reward will always encourage the wayward child. Promises of an ice-cream after school, an extra half hour of T.V or a trip to the park can easily persuade our little school haters to change their tune. For once they are in school, they are easily distracted by their friends and the activities going on.
Some younger children might still suffer from stranger anxiety or not being able to stay without their parent. In the case of these sensitive children, make sure you familiarize them with the teacher beforehand so they are comfortable with them.
Get someone else to drop them so that they don't decide to have a tantrum.
If they are able to read time, give them a watch and tell them what time you will come to pick them up.
These little acts will help ease those tricky first weeks till they get comfortable with their peers.
Children, like adults, get anxious. This anxiety is permeated by the environment of a Big School, older peers, strict teachers, the daunting set of rules and regulations to be followed.
Children night manifest this anxiety with a tummy ache, sudden bouts of fever or other symptoms of being unwell. Initially treat the medical problem at hand. But then address the situation full on. Initially it might be prudent to keep the child at home, till physical ailments dissipate, but do not make the day a fun day for your child. Tell him or her how much they would be missing out in class, in fun play and the activities and sports done at school. Relate to them how important it is for them to go to school and how proud you will be of their achievements. Slowly, the bored and curious child will opt to go to school rather than stay home.
Always let your children know that they can talk to you about any problem they have. Children do get bullied; the shy child will feel inadequate in front of more outgoing friends. But life is not all oranges and there are different varieties of fruit in every fruit bowl.
As parents, it is important to help your children be able to interact with individuals of all different races, beliefs and behaviour. They should understand that they too are an important part of the whole puzzle and they do fit in.
Written by Mayuri Jayasinghe based on an interview with Malathi Kahandaliyanage, Consultation Education and Behaviour Therapist