For teachers, students and parents, August signifies the end of summer and beginning of the school year. The anticipation of changes is in the air, with new class, schools, classmates, teachers, etc. These transitions can be exciting, overwhelming, scary, intimidating and happy all at the same time. One thing is for certain, growth is about to happen!
A few strategies as you navigate any upcoming changes with your child:
• Be Consistent
Keep your schedule at home the same and have the same expectations for routines. Build in a little extra time to talk through any emotions that your child may have about the changes. Consistency at home will provide extra stability that your child craves during the adjustment to a new routine at school.
• Be Positive
Take the time to talk with your child about the changes and keep it positive. Acknowledge how he feels about moving classes, getting new friends, going to a new school. Listen to the things he may miss about moving, then find points that will reassure him…he will see old friends, he will meet new friends, he will get to try new works, etc. Share with him the positive aspects of a new class and looking ahead.
• Be a Partner with the Teacher
From the beginning, create a partnership with the teacher with open dialogue. There will be differences and bumps with a new environment but if there is a part of class that you don’t quite understand from your child, reach out to the teacher for clarity. If your child says “I have no friends,” the teacher can either 1) clarify what that really means 2) offer suggestions on what you can say to your child or 3) be more aware of your child’s needs. This transitional time is the perfect opportunity to create a strong partnership for your child.
• Be Prepared
Expect some bumps, regression, tears and emotions along the way…they are inevitable with change. Be prepared for them; but do not project them onto your child. Drop offs may be a bit more difficult at first, accidents or “old behaviors” may pop up again, even trouble sleeping. If you anticipate some of these things, you can try to head them off before they happen or be prepared to handle them. See the above for getting through those bumps.
Your child may also surprise you and roll through the first week of transition without a hitch. Do not let your guard down yet…be prepared for after the “honeymoon phase.” Sometimes within the second week, the newness of the environment, children or teacher wears off and the reality settles in for the child. The above may happen at this point after a delay. Again, staying positive, consistent and working with the teacher will help move your child through that phase.
• Be Aware of YOUR Needs
You are also entering unknown territory (whether it’s a new class, school, or teacher). You may have gotten comfortable with your child’s teacher’s style, routine, personality. And now must learn about different expectations of a new teacher. Reach out to the teacher to find out more about these unknowns and to build that partnership with her. Along with the newness of the classroom, you are also facing the reality that your child is growing up. It is a bittersweet experience. Those bumps that your child faces, you may face also…you may be more emotional, hesitant at the door or short with others. Give yourself the opportunity to feel those emotions and talk with your partner or friends about how you feel, go for a walk, have some quiet time in the evening, or sip a glass of wine.
Buckle in for an exciting adventure of new things with your child!