With summer vacations coming to an end, it’s time for children to head back to school. For children, a school is not just a centre of learning, but also a place for socialising and recreation. So, while the thought of going back to school after a long vacation may seem exciting to many, others may not be that eager. They may feel worried and anxious.
In the article, ‘Back to school: A psychologist's tips to ease the journey’, by Nathalie Fernbach, psychologist Dr Joann Lukins says that many emotions around returning to school stem from the fear of change. According to Dr Lukins, “Change is something that humans typically react to ... we don't always love change when it comes along.”
If you are the parent of one such reluctant child, here are a few tips to help you prepare her emotionally for the change that is waiting to happen and go back to school in a cheerful mood.
Talk about your child going back to school: Speak to your child in a happy, optimistic and enthusiastic way about how exciting it would be to go back to school and meet friends and teachers, and relate to them stories about what happened during the vacation. Remember, change is stressful, not only for adults but for children as well. So, encourage him to talk about how he feels and address his concerns.
Re-establish regular bedtime routine: Vacations are a time to relax and have fun, but getting back to the old routine all of a sudden can be a challenge. Make this transition easier by gradually easing your child into a regular routine a few days before the school starts. Involve your child in the process by speaking to her about your plan.
Create a system for studying: After staying away from books during the vacations, getting back to studies and concentrating on lessons can prove difficult for a child. You can help your child overcome this problem by establishing a reading routine a few days prior to the end of vacations. Buy your child books that he loves to read, or get them from a nearby library. You can also spend some time with him reviewing the lessons and concepts taught before the start of vacations to refresh his memory. Not only will this make him feel confident but also rekindle his interest in studies and going back to school.
Shopping for items to be taken to school: Children grow up fast during vacations. While old uniforms and shoes no longer fit, worn-out school bags, water bottles, etc., also need replacement. It is always wise to buy these items earlier instead of waiting for the last minute. So, when you go out to shop for inventories needed for the new school year, take your child along with you. Ask her to select the school bag, lunch box, water bottles, stationery, shoes, etc., that she likes. This would help raise her spirits and she would also be eager to go to school to try out these new items.
Visit the school: Accompany your child to the school on the first day. If possible, walk with him to the classroom and help him connect with his class teacher. If your child is new to school, help him bond with a few other children of his class as well. This will make him feel at ease. If your child starts crying while you are walking away, reassure him that he will be fine and that you will meet him after the school is over.
When children don’t like the idea of going back to school, it is best to address their problem in a positive way. Talk to your child about the importance of the learning process and how time spent in school can make his life better. Tell him, with the help of examples, how he can use the lessons learnt in school in his everyday life. Also, reassure him that it is normal to feel anxious and worried on the first day of school, but all these feelings will probably disappear by the end of the first day.
"My daughter enjoys school and never wants to take a break from school. In school, she has a lot of friends and enjoys sports and art. Every day's timetable makes her look forward to something exciting in school. She has got her new bag and pencil box, and covered all her books and is ready and waiting for school to start."
- Sudha, a parent from Chennai
"My 8-year-old daughter just can't wait for the holidays to get over so that she can go back to school and share with her friends how she spent her vacation."
-Nisreen, a parent from Trivandrum
"I enjoy school and love being there. But, at times, I miss my mom and brother."
-Aarav, 2 years old, Chennai
"I don't want to go to school because I find going to school boring. But, of course, I am happy to see my friends."
-Zubin, 7 years old, Trivandrum
"This year is going to be different, for I will be in grade 11, and in a new school, in a new environment. But, I am looking forward to it."
-Nayza, 15 years old, Trivandrum