Oh #@!%^ School is Starting!!
As school is starting around the corner the stress level of the parents and the child are starting to increase. A new year, a new teacher, new friends, new schedule and of course a total change in routine. The child is worried about what the day will look like and if s/he will make friends. The parents are worried if their child’s teacher will “GET THEM”. So there is a lot going on in everyone’s mind!
Along with parents worrying it is important to understand that the teachers are feeling just as anxious and excited for the first day of school. As the teachers are getting prepared for the unknown to walk into the door, everyone is on high alert on who is going to need extra support along with understanding that each child deals with their frustration differently when it comes to feeling stuck, as they want to make friends and work on academics. Teachers want to meet every child’s needs along with understanding what is best for the child but there are times there are limitations since there is limited number of teachers in one room with the student-teacher ratio happening. So how can we help each child and family that walks through the classroom?
1. Parents Be Upfront
For parents it is hard to tell a stranger (teacher) at the start of the year what has been challenging for their child but it is really important to do so to help the child grow in the classroom. If you are a parent and you know that certain sounds bother your child and transitions are hard give the teacher feedback on what works well and what doesn’t. This will help the child decrease their anxiety throughout the day and it also helps the teachers to not recreate the wheel if the wheel has been created on what helps the child with transitions. If you know what helps please let the teachers know!
2. New School or Classroom
If your child is going to a new school or classroom it might help to start having practice visits to the school a couple days before you start. You want the child to start getting into the routine before school starts so they know where they are going and the routine starts to be more consistent. This will make a huge difference on the first day of school when the child has a lot going through his/her mind already since they might be worried about who they are going to play with and what are the teachers expectations.
Another idea is to have another family go to school with you so your child can walk into the classroom with their friend. Sometimes having another child with your child will help the child become more anchored in the classroom since they are not worried who they will talk with at the start of the day since they already have a friend with them.
3. They might outgrow this…lets see what happens!
At the start of the school year I understand that there is a honeymoon period for everyone. As a teacher, when you see a child the first month struggling it’s time to look for extra support for the child such as seeing an educational therapist or a support professional in the classroom. Just start the conversation with the parents even if nothing happens right away. The sooner the better so the child can get the behavioral or academic support needed to enjoy being at school. Too many times people tell me that they thought that the child will outgrow what is happening so they are calling for support in January. What happened in October, November and December? I know it is a hard conversation to have with the parents at the beginning of the year, but in the end, what is more important having a hard conversation or getting the child’s needs met? Many children need support and the earlier the better for the child, and as educators we have to have hard conversations. It is about the child, ALWAYS and not about not doing what is right because we are uncomfortable to have the conversation, which I know sucks!
As the new school year is about to begin everyone needs to BREATHE and enjoy the ride. Everyone is nervous, and open and honest communication is needed! If that doesn’t work we are all in trouble as we are trying to help each child become young humans in the world.