Across my news feeds the last 6 weeks I have seen countless memes and statuses with the same theme; parents counting down the days till the end of the summer holidays. Personally I have enjoyed my summer with my children, not because I am a perfect mother, but because my children tend to get a long better when they are home together and I find the school run horrendous!
Many parents this week will experience some degree of anxiety and worry due to their children starting school, whether it be a new year group, senior school or that first day in reception. As a school teacher and parent I hope the following post helps to ease any fears some of you may have.
Hold it in! Do not cry! No matter how much you feel like blubbering you must hold it in until that little face disappears into the classroom and you are left standing, alone, in a playground full of strangers, going back to an empty home, wondering what your baby is up to…. ok now you can cry! In all seriousness, crying and negative vibes are not good. As we well know our little cherubs pick up on conversations, moods and tension. Therefore it is vital you convey a positive, happy attitude to their exciting new chapter and likewise they will feel positive and happy also!
Back in my day….
I will never forget parents evenings as a teacher. On numerous occasions I had certain parents come and sit opposite me and look utterly terrified. I was 21 when I started teaching but could have been the Trunchbull to some of those mums and dads. After I put them at ease that I wasn’t about to whip out a cane or stand them in the corner they would began regaling me with stories of how they never got on with their teachers and hated school. My mum and dad always told my brother and I how well they did with their “O Levels” and how hard they worked at school and respected their teachers. It wasn’t until I was around 25 that it came to light that they were both in fact expelled at 14/15. I believe that telling your children any negative stories about school or how much you, yourself hated school can influence your child greatly. I don’t think you should lie, but by talking of positives and what you did enjoy will shape your child’s attitudes to their schooling.
Trust the Teachers
Teachers are a weird breed of human. I have met some odd, eccentric characters throughout my career (to put it politely) however I would say 99% of them care deeply about your child’s future and want them to be happy and succeed. Please if you have any concerns speak to them and let them know. I would always ensure I either scheduled a quick chat, face to face or via telephone, whenever a parent felt they needed to speak to me. Having these conversations are just as helpful for the teacher as they give the teacher an insight into any problems that may be brewing on the horizon and they can quickly help rectify them.
Go and have a coffee, exercise, meet with friends or any other type of activity that will distract you from worrying throughout the day. It is surprising how quick the day will go when you are busy. I have written a list of tasks I would like to achieve each week. I dwell on my worries and they escalate quickly therefore having time to sit and think will only make me feel anxious. By week 2 my house will look like a palace!
I think the majority of parents will agree that conversation with a tired 5 year old is limited. Each day after school I ask Alice how it was and what she did. Her reply is always a standard “nothing.” Infuriating. Cue crazy anxiety thoughts “maybe she’s being bullied” “what if she hates it” “what if she doesn’t like her teacher” “does she have any friends” etc. The truth is they are just exhausted mentally and physically. A good way of encouraging them to engage in conversation is to create a scrapbook type project. It can be a shared book or project on a tablet whereby each day or every other day you can focus on something in particular. For example you can draw a picture of lunch. This can lead to subtle questioning “that looks nice Alice who are these children sitting next to you at the table” Gradually you will gain an insight into their day and routines. Keep it fun perhaps do some role play, play doh figures, collage, a silly song, whichever way works best!
I wish you all well on your journeys and sending positive vibes to you and your children. I would love to know any other coping mechanisms and advice you have for other parents and how you have coped this first week!