Top tips for a stress-free start to school

Uniforms have been cleaned, new shoes purchased, stationery is stocked up and everyone is gearing up for the new school year.

Most of us feel a combination of excitement at the thought of starting a new job, and an element of fear that we aren’t up to it. For some children, starting back to school can bring about similar mixed feelings and not all of them positive.

There are many things we can do as parents to help normalise the situation for kids. Whether they be starting school for the first time, beginning a new school, or commencing a challenging year, e.g. their VCE years.

Practice

For children in the early years this is as simple as getting them to dress themselves in school uniform, fastening their shoes, filling up their water bottle, opening and closing their new lunch box. Anything and everything to familiarise themselves with all the new equipment on their first day back.

For older students who perhaps will be travelling to high school by themselves by public transport, this means tackling the route once or twice before the big day.

Preparation

Of course bedtime routines slip when we are on holidays. A week or two before returning to school, it’s a good idea to gradually pull those bed times back to your regular times. That way it won’t be so hard getting up early on the first day of school.

Foreseeing those ‘pain points’ as the house gets ready in the morning  and getting bags and lunches packed the night before will all reduce stress.

Nerves and Anxiety

We all get nervous from time to time, and it’s easy for us to tell our kids not to worry as we find it uncomfortable when they are less than happy. We need to teach them to sit with those uncomfortable feelings to help them  build resilience and learn to calm themselves without relying on us for reassurance.

Talking about their fears and worries helps normalise their feelings. Very often kids worry about something that hasn’t happened and very likely won’t happen! Teaching them mindfulness helps them control these thoughts by getting them to stay present.

Remember, it’s not about being fearless  but showing effective ways to manage those feelings.

We also need to be aware of our own feelings that we might have. Children often pick up on our anxieties and worries, so we need to manage ourselves too!

The ABC has teamed up with Smiling Mind to create some special mindfulness episodes for parents and students.

Alternatively download the Mindfulness Meditation app here.

Checklists

Download this free check list to help your kids get ready in the mornings

Checklists can be a useful way of helping younger kids get into a morning routine. Print it out and encourage them to tick their tasks as they go – maybe a reward at the end of the week for staying on task?

IN SUMMARY

1. Practice

  • – get smaller kids to have a run through (or two) putting on their uniform.
  • – get older kids do a practice run of their journey to school.

2. Preparation

  • – get back into term time bed times.
  • – prepare school bags, lunchboxes and uniforms the night before.

3. Nerves & Anxiety

  • – talk through your child’s concerns.
  • – help them practise mindfulness.

4. Use checklists to keep kids on task!