How to help my child flourish at school

With the beginning of a new school year, there may be many different feelings and emotions that surface for both you and your child/children.

Whether your kids are going to school for the first time or have already started school and are returning, a new school year marks a new beginning.

For some this new beginning means hope and excitement, while for others it may be apprehension, worry or even dread.
For a child just beginning, whether it be Primary or Secondary school, you wonder what the school year will bring.
For the returning student, restarting a new year brings memories and expectations from previous years.

If your child is coming off negative experiences related to school from previous years, you wonder and maybe even fear what this year will bring. However, if your child had a good year previously, your expectations are likely to be more positive.

These experiences for your child, as well as your own emotions and expectations, often influence the way your child will embrace the new school year.

So how can you assist your child to have the best possible chance to flourish at school this year?

1. Remain in the present and stay away from unrealistic expectations (as well as not being influenced by memories from past experiences).
2. Be positive and use language that provides a sense of optimism, encouragement, confidence and competence.
3. Connect with your child and encourage them to talk about the new year – provide opportunities to be a good listener…but don’t pressure and be patient, as your child will often share with you when they’re ready.
4. Help your child to get into a consistent routine to ensure success – adequate sleep, creating a HW schedule, planning extra and co-curricular activities etc.
5. Be prepared and informed so that you can help your child to be equipped with the required stationary, uniform requirements etc. as well as the necessary knowledge e.g. school rules, expectations etc.
6. Relax and don’t sweat the small stuff – if you’re relaxed and calm, it’s more likely your child will be able to model this as well.

However, if things don’t start well, don’t stress or panic, get proactive and get some support. Talk to another parent or trusted friend, or have a chat with your child’s teacher/school support staff (e.g. Pastoral or Wellbeing staff, School Counsellor etc.) as they will have most likely encountered similar problems or difficulties, and have the experience to assist. If things don’t settle for your child or you are still worried and a little stuck, there are Psychologists here to support you and your child through the challenges at this time.

John Pertl

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