Hard to believe that the summer holidays are almost over. Starting school is a big change for all families, and it can be especially daunting for younger kids who are attending a new school. Below are some tips on how to support your child, manage anxiety and make the transition a little easier.
Visit the school in advance to help familiarise your child with the new setting. Incoming students should be able to use the playground, visit the library and explore the school grounds.
Prepare for the new commute. Travel to and from school several times as a practice run. Try going at the usual drop-off and pick-up times, which will help you better gauge the traffic levels in Bangkok. If your child is taking the school bus, ask if you can accompany them the first few times to build their confidence.
Get into the school day routine early. It’s hard to come out of summer holiday mode but a week or so of a new routine will make preparing for school easier. This includes waking up early, getting dressed, having breakfast, packing schoolbags, and going to bed at a regular time.
Create a checklist with your child about the things that need to be done in the evening and morning before they leave for school. Knowing what is expected will take some of the anxiety out of the process.
Anticipate separation anxiety. Many kids will not willingly separate from their parents or caregivers during the first weeks of school. It’s normal and each family may have different coping strategies. Just remember that it will be easier to avoid long, emotional goodbyes, as such actions can increase distress. Also, reassure your child of when you or a caregiver will pick them up to bolster their sense of security.
Hold off on new extra-curricular activities until your child feels settled into school. The school day can be long and it’s good to follow your child’s lead; they may not have the energy to engage in other activities and require down time, or they may need more active pursuits as an outlet.
Stay positive. Starting a new school year will take time for everyone to adjust. As hard as it can be, try to keep your own emotions in check and prepare some coping mechanisms, such as chatting with other parents, having a coffee after drop-off, going to the gym, etc.
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