Some kids can’t wait for school to start. They’re wired for the social interaction and stamina a new school year brings and have no qualms about new classrooms, new teachers, and new friends. But other children find the start to a new school year intimidating and overwhelming. Sometimes these kids exhibit shyness or anxiety and have trouble adjusting to the new routine.
You can help your child overcome his or her worries and experience a great school year with a few simple tricks to making school less intimidating.
First, be prepared.
Shy children like knowing what to expect and what is coming next. One of the easiest ways to ready your child is to simply talk it out. Review the schedule for the school day (ask for one if you don’t have it) and reinforce your family’s drop-off and pick-up routine.
Also, simply preparing for each day the night before will help your morning run more smoothly and make your child, and you, less frazzled.
- Pack lunches and put in the fridge.
- Set the table for breakfast if you eat at home, and decide the night before what you’ll have.
- Check backpacks for notebooks, signed papers, snacks, library books, etc.
- Set shoes by the door.
- Lay out clothes.
All of these simple tasks will help your child feel the situation is not out of his–or your–control.
Next, be positive.
No matter what experience you had in school, it is important you allow your child to draw his or her own conclusions. He may love math although you hated it. She may thrive in middle school even though you felt awkward. While sharing your own experiences is an important way to connect with your child, it is also necessary that you do not give him or her preconceived notions.
Focus on the fun of learning when your child complains. Remind him about music class or PE or even recess. Demonstrate your own enthusiasm for school by volunteering or even simply coming by for lunch on occasion. This will reassure your child that you care and that you are supporting his endeavor.
And when the drop off is hard, know that a quick goodbye demonstrates your confidence in his ability to make it through the day without you. Save your own tears for the parking lot.
Also, be empowering.
Just because some kids become best friends after one afternoon in the park doesn’t mean all children make friends or adjust to social situations as easily. Empower your child by teaching some simple conversation starters for making friends.
- What’s your name?
- Where do you live?
- What did you do this summer?
- What do you do after school?
- Or any 3 topics of conversation you want to brainstorm together.
Easy, natural questions like this will help your child develop relationships and discern who shares his interests. Often, children who tend to be shy feel they don’t know what to say. Learning simple conversation starters removes that burden.
Finally, be patient.
The new school year routine requires adjustment. Not only for your family, as mornings often start earlier and days end later, but for your child as he settles into a new normal. Young children (and even some older) need a few weeks to feel fully settled, and you should expect the first month to be a learning curve. However, you should know the signs of concern:
- tantrums at home or school
- withdrawn, sullen, refusing to participate in activities
- violent with other children or at home
If your child is continuing to exhibit these behaviors, make an appointment with your pediatrician or the school counselor to discuss underlying problems such as learning delays or difficulties.
How is your family making school less intimidating?