For many of our children this week is the first week back to school or maybe its the very first week at school. Whether your little one is starting primary or secondary school or is just moving into a new year group they are going to experience some change. Change of building, teacher or teachers, timings of the school day or even workload and all this change can be very daunting. Not only for our children but for us as well.
I’ve worked in education for 11 years now and I’ve seen many children come and go. The most successful pupils always have supportive parents. When I say success I’m not just talking about straight A* pupils (or pupils achieving all grade 9s now) but also the pupils who have worked hard and achieved things they never thought they could. Good grades, confidence, emotional wellbeing, becoming a well rounded individual, being proud of themselves.
As a parent and an experienced teacher I feel that there are a few do’s and don’ts that parents should take on board when their child starts a new school year or new school.
- Talk to your child about their day. This sounds very obvious but some children are very reluctant to talk about school at first and will just say things like “it was fine”. Ask them what they enjoyed the most, what was fun, encourage them to open up about their day and of course discuss any concerns they may have. Just because they say everything is fine that is not always the case.
- Develop a professional relationship with their teacher. In primary schools this is fairly easy as you can talk to the teacher at pick up time. Unfortunately, if your child goes to an after school club and you don’t pick him/her up until later this is a little difficult. If this is a situation you are in (like myself) you can ring the school to make an appointment with the teacher or send a note. If your child is in secondary school their tutor is your first form of contact. Usually you can email the tutors, email addresses for each teacher can usually be found on the schools’ website. Make yourself known and get any of your queries addressed.
- Join or set up social media group for your child’s class. I am in a WhatsApp group for my son class. Although it can be a little annoying and tedious at times, the ladies (and gent) are an absolute god send. Any reminders about mufti days, dates of assemblies, parents’ evenings, trips, letters that you may have misplaced are all accessible at the touch of a few buttons. Also they can answer questions about things you might not know like what can be put in a packed lunch box. Being a working mum myself this really has been an invaluable tool and has really helped me stay on top of everything that is going on at school.
- Don’t expect your child to adjust quickly. Some children take a lot longer than others to adjust to change. It may take a few weeks maybe even months for your child to settle. Just be as supportive as you can and work with the teacher to make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Don’t get sucked in by other parents. Every child develops and learns at different rates. Do not worry or stress out because little Timmy can write his name in cursive handwriting, can speak 3 languages and knows all his time tables at age 6. Be more concerned with the fact that your child is happy, settled and enjoys going to school. As long as your child is improving and progressing he is doing well. Happiness and resilience are the two most important ingredients within the classroom. If your child enjoys the environment they are in they are more likely to try again if they get things wrong. If at first you don’t succeed you can always try again. I learnt this the hard way.
I hope this list is useful to you. I tried to keep it short and sweet but may have gone a little overboard. If there are any questions you have about school, send me an email, I’m happy to help where i can.
I hope all your little ones (or not so little ones) settle into school well and enjoy the time they have there…it doesn’t last long.