It is February and your kid is still struggling to settle in their class…it is a lovely school, the teachers are great. I know that road too well. My own Top 8 Tips to try (that might) help a child settle in class have been formed through the fires of terrible mornings! Firstly, I don’t think there is one recipe that works for every child. I have been faced with the biggest challenge with my second child and have searched far and wide for solutions.
Having a teaching background and having one kid already into Primary School I’ve seen my fair share of school drops off styles. The parents who linger, the children who cling, the parents who walk, the children who cry, the parents who chat and the children who run off and play.
1. Don’t give to much of a run up. A few days before mention it very casually and positively, ‘School starts on Wednesday, you will be in Miss…. class’
2. Focus on the place and not the people. New people can be scary, new teachers who your children don’t have a trust relationship with and even worse new children who they don’t know. For many kids these relationships will take time and they don’t need extra social pressure on them. Let them take it at their own pace and don’t ask them if they have made new friends in the first few weeks/months!
3. If possible take photos for talking points. Images of the gate, the classroom, the playground and their locker/hook are all wonderful tools to use at home. Alternatively, find pictures online of the school gate, passages and playground. These pictures can be chatted about at home, they can help trigger a time of sharing and allow a child to become more familiar with a brand new environment. Short light conversations based around these can help a child feel more at ease. Let your child tell you about whichever picture sparks their fancy rather than you prescribing a single image to talk about.
4. Identify important places and the lay of the land. Make sure your child knows who their teacher and class assistants are. Help them get to grips with their names, especially if the pronunciation is tricky! Help them know where the loo is and with older children the front office, tuck shop, significant gates or sport venues. If you are permitted try to walk these routes with your child. Slightly older children can help you draw a map of their school, their class and playground. Orientating themselves in a new place can help them feel more in control of their environment.
5. Recap the important boundaries/rules. Keep this light and brief. Ask your child what are the important rules to remember. Create a short list together. Include the reasons why these should be followed and debunk any fears of punishment affirming them by saying ‘ You got this, you are good at following rules’ (Let’s hope they are!). These may include rules such as:
-Listen to the teacher
-Ask if you need the loo
-Keep your belongings in your bag/locker
-Do not leave the school unless it is with me!
6. Be WELL prepared. Have all lunch boxes, bags, school items packed the night before. this is a reminder to myself! It is always a challenge to find the energy to do this- but it is so worth it the following morning! Give your child your attention in the morning by eating breakfast together and having some connection time free from rushing and stress. Let’s just say we are aiming for this in our household and are yet to achieve this one!
7. Keep your emotions in check. No tears in front of the child. Keep drama, stress, arguments, disagreements and any outbursts for later! Think, cool, calm and collected!
8. Keep your good-bye’s short and simple by sticking to a routine. For example: Walk in, hang bag, one high five and I’ll see you later. This will especially help younger children but older kids also thrive on routines and these mundane routines will make lasting memories for them and give them security.
9. Give them time to adjust. Expect tears, drama, clinging, upsets, ups and downs bu know that through this your child is building resilience and independence. These are two vital life skills. Trump up the quality time and cuddle time at home after school. Keep to your plan and your child will hopefully adjust into it- even if it takes a while.
Many blessings for the year ahead x