Here comes the first day of school parents!
Hong Kong continuously battles COVID by convincing its people to regain maximum capacity through vaccines. Parents remain vigilant anticipating adjustments right and left, not only in government policies but also, in school arrangements for their kids.
In anticipation of the first day of school, we complete the list of everything our child would need. Stationeries complete, uniforms ironed for the next day, and books and notebooks named. We, parents, recently added preparing the RAT test and thermometer with the log sheet by the dining table to conform to the new school rule. But the actual preparation also includes getting our kiddos’ mindsets ready.
Here comes the first day of classes and there’s much to anticipate. While we are busy getting everything they need on a daily basis, their well-being should remain the top priority.
Every kid needs help.
You may not have a first-timer yet it feels just about the same coming from a hybrid form of learning. So, this post is just for any parent who’s as cautious as I am for this coming school year.
Recently, a lot of changes bring forth similar feelings of not knowing what to expect. At every level, new teachers, new classmates, and of course, new lessons on top of the COVID adjustments are anticipated. So how do we get our kiddos ready?
School administrations reach out to parents beforehand through initial parent-teacher meetings. Usually, it concerns the basic information regarding school calendars, grading systems, and how to get involved in the kids’ growth and development. My daughter is in the process of transitioning to K1 as it is her first time attending formal school. Somehow, it’s not a walk in the park. I will admit that as compared to my first, my patience was tested. As they said, siblings own different personalities in more ways than one. That is a story for another day.
Here’s what you can do for your first-timer:
1. Let them know what to expect.
Give them a picture of how their schedule would go about. Run to them a gist of the people they’d be meeting, the activities they’d be doing, and how long. It would also be great if you would tell them a thing or two on how to say hello and goodbye. It’s important also that you let them know their name. That way, they could initiate a step towards the introduction of one’s self to classmates. Tasks empower a child and even the little accomplishment of gaining a smile back through these greetings would encourage such good habits. In the long run, it will boost their self-esteem, and would likely get encouraged to do it again.
2. Say proper goodbye.
Don’t just go to school and leave your child abruptly without saying a proper goodbye. Some parents think that it will be minimizing the crying sesh but this heightens up the separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is commonly observed within a child’s development from the 8th month, or as soon as they recognize their primary caregiver. This usually surfaces up until they reach 8 years old, but it could get worse when they get older if it’s not resolved or got aggravated. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s a huge change in a toddler’s routine — being with their primary giver (usually the mom) every day from when they were born, to being separated for three hours for school dealing with lots of strangers, new lessons to learn, and coping up on their own without family member around. You could just imagine how each moment, within those three hours, how could rattle their safety. Not to mention, for it to happen on a daily basis, surely brings a great deal of stress.
So, the least that we can do is ease that anxiety even just a little bit by taking time to hold their hands, scooch down to their level, look them in the eye and bid them a proper goodbye. Take this chance also to assure them that you will come back for them as soon as school is over. To that, fetch them promptly until they get used to the routine. Dropping off the kids and running away would leave them clueless which could lead to anxiety levels shooting through the roofs. So, letting them experience how “temporary” this separation is, could help them cope efficiently.
3. Give them something to look forward to.
A few minutes in the playground nearby, an additional sticker to your ‘Perseverance Board’ or a playdate with a friend, can distract them from feeling sad and anxious. Just make sure you’d conform to this form of reward because positive reinforcement often leads to an action to be done again. While this could be the best way to form a good habit, it’s also adding a stronger layer of trust towards you as a primary caregiver that you are a man (or a woman) of your word.
4. Get involved.
If there is volunteer work for parents or parents’ club or any parent-student activity in school, find the time to get involved to show them that they are supported. They will take pride in your cooperation and such a gesture could serve as a good example for them in taking the initiative to join groups in school and working in teams. It will enhance their involvement in their academics which could pave the way for them to find school fun and adventurous.
My daughter’s school initiated a project as the school opens up around the Mid-Autumn Festival. Parents and students are invited to join a ‘Make-Your-Own-Lantern‘ project contest and so, my daughter enjoyed the first week of school right away. It’s a great initiative!
5. Acknowledge their experiences
At one point, all of these may not be helpful and the greatest way to deal with it is to allow them to talk it out. We can monitor what they feel through constant communication. Ask them how their day was, and allow them to truly express it in its raw form. After all, anybody is entitled to their own emotions. So, take this chance to acknowledge theirs. And when you do, give 100% of your time to this. Not with one eye on your child and the other on your mobile phone. If we don’t give time to hearing about the little things, they won’t bother communicating with you later on with the bigger things.
We have an aim of getting our kids educated that’s why we bring them to school. But in all of these, I realized, I learned a lot too, yet it’s just the first day of school!
Share away some of your strategies too on how you help your children cope with the first day of school. Whether it worked or not, some parents may just benefit from this little effort. And we don’t judge.