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02 March 2017

PROGRESS CHECK: How are your kids settling into school?

And just like that, we’re four weeks into Term 1 – how did that happen? Adjusting to a new routine, dealing with social anxiety and making friends can be tricky, so we had a chat with an experienced school psychologist, Suzanne Gibbney, to put together the three top tips for settling your children into school.

1. Set a morning routine for your children

A stressful morning can lead to a stressful day!

We can all relate to that – sleeping through the alarm and running out the door with breakfast in hand makes it pretty hard to feel composed.

Keep mornings calm by:

  1. turning off the television
  2. packing bags, laying out clothes and making lunches the night before
  3. writing out a step-by-step plan and putting it on the fridge.

Ms Gibbney says involving your children in planning the routine gives them a sense of control and allows them to focus on achieving what’s next on the list in the morning.

“Keep the initial routine simple with just five or six items on the list and build it up as your children get used to it,” she says.

2. See them off at school the right way

Skidding through the kiss and drop area while your children jump from the car isn’t the most effective way to drop them off at school.

Getting to school at least 15 minutes before the bell so your children can get organised for the day saves rushing to classes and increasing feelings of anxiety.

Ms Gibbney says staying with your children can sometimes make the situation worse.

“This prolongs the wait time for your children and makes it harder for them to leave you,” she says.

“If a child is finding it difficult to say goodbye, it may be helpful to give them a quick kiss, tell them you’ll see them in the afternoon and then go.

“Reinforce that your child can rely on you and trust you by being on time for pick up – that helps them feel secure at school.”

3. Help them make friends for life

We all remember sharing highs and lows at school with best friends. Friendships make school memorable and, most of all, make learning exciting.

If your child is struggling to make friends, it’s important to keep things in perspective, says Ms Gibbney.

“Empathise with your child’s feelings, but keep those feelings in perspective. Children usually let go of the pain a lot faster than we do.

“Also remember that, as parents, we may overreact and blame others unfairly because we only know one perspective.”

To help your children develop friendships:

  1. encourage and help them to invite friends home
  2. create opportunities to meet new friends outside school time;
  3. make friends with the parents of your children’s friends (and those they don’t get along with)
  4. model being a good friend with your own social group and talk with your children about the ways good friends act.

For more resources to help children settle into school, check out our website or speak with the teacher/s.

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