The start of the a new school year can be a challenging time for students and parents. Dr Judith Lock, author of the parenting book, The Bonsai Child provides her tips on how to support your child as they transition to a new year.
- If your child is anxious about starting a new class with unfamiliar people, do listen to them talk about their fears, but normalise them (‘A lot of people feel worried about starting something new’), and then talk about their past strengths in facing tricky things and your confidence that they will cope with this challenge.
- When they come home from their first day at a new activity, keep your questions broad, ‘How was it?’ not, ‘Did you make a friend today?’ or ‘Is Sam in your class?’ This won’t put unnecessary pressure on them or suggest things in which they should be disappointed.
- Keep your and your child’s expectations realistic. It is highly unlikely that they will form close friendships in the early days of a new school year, particularly in early primary. How often have you started a new job and come home from your first day to announce, ‘I made my new best friend today’?
There are things you can say if your child is not in a class they want to be in:
- Listen to them. Then reflect back what you hear. ‘You’re upset because your friend is not in your class. That is a completely understandable feeling’. Or ‘Sounds like you are upset because you didn’t get the teacher that you wanted.’
- Then state the potential benefits of facing this challenge, i.e. making extra, new friends, learning skills to make new acquaintances, being able to focus more on schoolwork in class than talking to their current best friend, learning how to work with a different type of teacher than the one they had last year.
- Maybe tell them a story about how you learned a lot from a teacher you had who was a bit tougher but taught you a lot, or a time you went somewhere where you didn’t know anyone but learnt how to get on in unfamiliar environments.
- Let your child know that they can still see their friend/s at lunchtime or at play dates or parties.
© Judith Locke.
Dr Judith Locke is a clinical psychologist, former teacher, and the author of the parenting book, The Bonsai Child, which details practical strategies to help you build confidence and capability in your child. Her latest book, The Bonsai Student details practical parenting techniques for your child to thrive in the schooling. (There are links to purchase both of these at bonsaichild.com) Judith delivers talks to parents and teachers at schools around Australia on child wellbeing.
This article originally appeared in theparentswebsite.com.au as ‘The case against parents influencing class placements’.