Some of the practicalities that come with big school can be very exciting, says Trudie Gilmore, General Manager at ADvTECH Junior Colleges. These include sorting out school uniforms and supplies, adjusting to the new routine, meeting the new teacher and exploring the new school grounds. However, the increased demands and an unfamiliar environment can be daunting.
Gilmore offers the following tips to ease your child into the new situation:
ALLOW FOR MAKING MISTAKES
Parents should encourage their children to be more independent and, where possible, to think for themselves, Gilmore says. “Encourage your child to practice small ways to look after themselves, such as dressing themselves, ensuring their book bags are packed and looking after their belongings. Encourage and praise them for trying, even when they don’t get it right the first time.”
It can be very frustrating for young children if they’re unable to complete a task to their satisfaction. Teach your child that, when learning new things, it’s important that they keep on trying, even if they find it challenging, Gilmore advises. “Don’t step in and ‘fix’ the situation, but rather guide, encourage and motivate.”
“You can also prepare together by acting out different situations with toys. Playing games that involve turns or rules, such as board games, are good for practising how to get along with others, Gilmore adds. This way, children can try out some of the skills they’ll need later to make friends.”
Being interested and curious about the things around us is important for learning. Encourage your child’s natural sense of curiosity by talking to them about things, people and places when you are out and about, she says. “New research has shown clear benefits for children whose parents engage them in productive conversation, that is, where each takes turns to listen and respond appropriately.”
HELP THEM WITH STRESS
Limit any additional pressure so your child can deal better with the challenges they’ll be facing. And make sure your child gets enough rest.
“Children who get enough sleep are likely to be less short-tempered and better able to handle school stress. Also, beware of piling on extra-mural activities. We’ve come to believe that busy equals happy, but over-scheduling means less free and family time,” Gilmore says.