The start of a new school year is an exciting time yet it can also be a difficult transition period for all in the family. The school holidays have been long and hopefully fun and joyous – lots of down time, little routine and socialising. For many families, both parents have been at home for some of the time and there may also have been a vacation. School, on the other hand, means a return to routine and focus.
If your child is starting school, you may feel challenged letting go - the first day of school is often harder for parents then it is for kids. It’s important to recognise if there is some level of separation anxiety because your child will feel and absorb it.
If your child is entering high school, there may be excitement but also trepidation, especially if they are going to a school without any of their old primary school friends. If your child is changing schools, there may be fear and stress around entering a new environment, unfamiliar teachers and without friends.
Founder of The Karma Class, Beth Borowsky, holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education and is a kids and adult yoga teacher and teacher trainer. She is also a mother of 2 young adult women. Here, she shares 5 ideas on how to help your child ease into the new school year with grace and enthusiasm.
Be enthusiastic about getting organised
Sit together and make a list of all the stationery and books that are needed and plan a trip to the shops. You can add in a favourite lunch spot or a movie so that school shopping is associated with fun. If your child is older, they may prefer to go shopping with a group of friends. Remind them to include a diary so they can be organised from the start!
It’s exciting to go uniform shopping – especially if it’s for your child’s first school uniform – so be sure to take photos and share them with friends and family.
Make a list together of your child’s favourite healthy foods to include in their lunch box and involve them from the start in making their school lunch.
Talk about what to expect
It’s important to talk about what lies ahead - new friends, new teachers, new activities! Most schools will have reduced hours for the first week and special intake days to help ease the kindy kids into their new routine. You will most likely have visited the school together for an open day so reflect on that visit - what activities did they do and enjoy, who did they meet? Talk about how the school day will flow and ensure they know how they will be getting to and from school. Listen to their concerns with compassion. There are many fun books on the topic to share together.
If your child isn’t a talker, take some photos of the school and create a school board. Decorate it with relevant pictures and words.
For older children, have dinner table conversations about their goals for the year ahead - academic, sports, social. Find out if they have any stress or concerns. There may be particular teachers that make them uneasy, subject choices to make or academic demands. Give them the space to be heard without judgement and perhaps share some of your school memories with them!
Get social and make playdates
If this is your child’s first year make an effort to meet the other parents and set up some play dates. Be proactive and arrange a BBQ or picnic at a local beach or park.
If your child is older, identify sports teams, after school activities or school clubs they can join.
Practice mindfulness and mindful breathing to reduce stress and anxiety
Explain to your child that inside of them lives their Magical Breath. Mindful breathing brings instant calm to our body and mind. Try Belly Breathing together. Lying down comfortably or sitting up tall, place your hands on your lower belly and take a slow, deep inhale. Feel your belly swell like a balloon. As you exhale feel your belly balloon deflate. Try for at least 5 rounds. Remind your child that they can do this whenever they are feeling scared, anxious or nervous and the best part is, no one needs to know they are doing it! Before sleep is a perfect time to practice belly breathing together.
Guided visualisations are a great way to melt fear and anxiety. Contact us at The Karma Class and we’ll share some with you. Let us know your child’s age and a little about them.
Create a routine from the start
Establishing a routine from the very start, especially in the mornings, can mean the difference between chaos and tantrums or peace and calm. Get yourself ready first so you can be present for the morning tasks. Have clothes laid out, bags packed and lunch box food decided. Try not to overpack their afternoons with activities. Allow for down time at the beach or park.
With older kids, be clear from the outset about homework – the best time, the most suitable area without distractions. Set rules and guidelines for screen times.
Some kids relish the thought of starting or returning to school while others may dread it. Either way create time and space for them to be heard and help them to tease out their feelings. The first few weeks may be a little rocky but soon the summer fun days will fade from memory and they’ll be into the routine and rigours of school life.
The Karma Class offers accredited workshops for Australian teachers on how to easily weave basic yoga, breath and mindfulness into the classroom to minimise stress, build resilience and maintain health and wellness.