Back to school blues?
Ding ding! Uniforms are labelled and pencils are sharpened, but going back to school can be stressful. Here, the head at Parkside School offers her top tips for kids (and parents).
While frazzled parents are putting the Prosecco on ice and skipping towards this school gate with their brood in freshly ironed shirts – for many the first day can be a tricky. For some kids, there’s excitement all-round. But for others it’s nerve-wracking at best, and storm of anxiety and fear, at worst.
Whether your child is starting school for the first time or returning after a summer of fun – it helps to be prepared. To help you cope, we asked Nicole Janssen, the head teacher at Parkside School in Cobham, for some advice. Here’s what she had to say…
Back to basics
Summer holidays means late nights, and even later mornings. And if you’re the parent of a teenager it may even be well into the pm before you see your little darling surface. The first day back is always going to be a hard one, so it’s important to prioritise sleep. Set the alarm a little earlier in the days before they return – and before you know it you’ll be back into your term-time routine.
It may sound obvious, but check which day your child is due back. The last thing you want to do is turn up a day early, or worse, a day late! Make sure your child has everything they need for their first day back. If you’re a list maker, now’s the time to get out your notebook. Uniform – check. School shoes – check. Books – check. You’ll feel much more relaxed knowing you’re prepared and your children will buy in to your confidence and calmness.
Keep calm and carry on
If your children are worried, don’t join in. Relax, stay calm and be positive. Talk to your child about all the things they’re looking forward to about going back to school – whether it’s catching up with their friends, taking part in school clubs, or even having their favourite school lunch. Encourage your child to share their fears or worries. Tell them it’s normal to have concerns, and make sure you’re available to talk through any worries. If you can share an experience about your first day in a job and the same worries and niggles this brings – your discussion could lead to them giving you advice; which in turn, will help them through their own fears. Perhaps have a set time to talk – for littlies this can be before bedtime, or during meals. Teens may feel more comfortable if there’s a distraction – so talking while in the car, or when walking the dog may be more effective – they can’t escape then!
There’s a lot for a child to remember at the start of term – teachers’ names, timetables, when homework has to be handed in, when they need their sports kit etc. Help them organise their stuff in the first few weeks and offer support and reassurance. If it’s a new school there’s even more for a child to take in and which is why I feel a Taster Day is really important for our new pupils at Parkside – just finding your way around can be stressful – so visit the school and show your child the classrooms, the dining hall and the loos – the important things!
For older children – and younger ones too, it’s a good idea to refresh their knowledge before heading back to school. A few simple activities on the topics they learnt throughout the previous year will remind them of what they’ve already learned and get them back into the right frame of mind for school.
Nicole Janssen is head teacher at Parkside School in Cobham, a small all-boys prep school with a community vibe that really stands out. Read our full review here check the school out at its open day on Fri 27 September
Parkside School, The Manor, Stoke D’Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3PX. Tel: 01932 862749. parkside-school.co.uk