Are YOU school ready?
A lot has been said about making sure children are school ready, but how school ready are you, mom and dad? Having children start school is often a big adjustment for parents. Here are some ways to make the most of this critical milestone.
Like anything that matters, accept that there will be many different emotions for you and your child. Make space for these feelings by giving them a name, letting everyone know it’s okay to have them, and working on different strategies for dealing with them.
It’s also essential to see this transition as an exciting and safe step when you’re with your child. Although you might battle some uncertainty and anxiety, try to hold it together around your child. Discussing these worries and uncertainties with your parenting partners, friends, your child’s teachers, and other professionals would be best. They are in a better position to support you and offer suggestions.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unclear about all the new requirements, schedules and school rules when starting a new school or phase. Make a list of things that make you feel uncertain and/or anxious. Where necessary, turn these into questions to clarify with your child’s teacher or school. Schools don’t expect parents to know everything. If it helps, start a notebook and jot down different lists and things to remember as you go along.
Some of these concerns might be less practical and more personal. Take the time to understand why these concerns are challenging for you (and your child). You can do this by journaling and talking these through with your trusted tribe. Take this understanding and list tools and people to help you with these concerns.
Getting into a new routine can be tricky. Spend some time drawing up a new daily and weekly schedule. Use a diary or chart that everyone can see to map out the new schedule. Take some time to talk through and practice the new routine. This can include waking up at new times, practising new tasks like packing lunches and bags, visiting the new schools and classrooms, and letting your child know their school routine and pick-up times. This can also help with separation anxiety, where children feel more in control when they see what will happen when they start school.
This is also a critical moment to pause and reflect on how far you have come. You and your child have already had to navigate numerous developmental obstacles and milestones to reach this point. It can be good to talk about this with your child, make a list or draw all the things you feel proud of and grateful for, or the tools you have learnt that can help you start your new adventure. Simultaneously, you can use this to think about the future and set goals together. This can be a great way of making the next step seem more exciting.
Remember, your love is the greatest gift you can give your child. Your consistent attention, encouragement, and patience will go a long way for both of you.
*Paul Bushell is a psychologist, author, podcaster and regular commentator on emotional intelligence, parenting, career devilment and meaningful living. He is also the founder of the #raisingkids brands, which includes a book, journals and tools for adults, children and teens to explore emotional intelligence and career development.