Posted on: 23.08.2021.
Although we are still in the middle of summer, some parents and children are starting to think about the beginning of the school year. They worry about buying school bags, books and supplies, choosing extracurricular activities and overall organization during school days. If we allow that, the tension in the body grows, the discomfort increases and various emotions appear that affect our mood. Since the school holidays are not over yet, we share with you how to stay relaxed and be positive about everything that awaits you at the beginning of the school year.
Going back to school means a complete change in the routine that has prevailed for the last 2.5 months. During the holidays we usually sleep longer, there is less activity, we are more relaxed, we rest and have more time to socialize. The beginning of the school year requires a different organization. For parents, this means more obligations in terms of going to parent teacher meetings, individual consultations, checking and helping with homework and learning, driving to different activities. I believe that it is not at all easy to think about all that and it can lead to anxiety.
On the other hand, children's worries may be more focused on relationships with other children in the class or others in the school, there may be fear of some teachers / professors, required reading and the amount of homework and tests, and they may also feel pressure to get good grades.
There is more uncertainty among first graders and their parents because they don’t know exactly what to expect. Parents can be anxious about whether the child will make new friends in the class, what the teacher will be like, whether the child will manage to fulfil all the obligations and learn successfully.
What can we do to make the beginning of the new school year easier for ourselves and our child and spend the remainder of school holidays feeling relaxed and carefree?
Nourish a positive attitude about school and school obligations! Children quickly absorb and imitate adults. If they hear their family members worry about school, how they think it is a disaster if a child gets a grade lower than an A and that their entire life and career depend on it, then there is a much higher chance that the child will develop a negative attitude towards school. This means that they will worry unnecessarily and that they will be focused on outcomes (grades) and not on the process itself (learning, acquiring and applying knowledge). Also, a child’s self-esteem may be low because they will believe they cannot master some school subjects.
When you have a positive attitude towards school, you do not create pressure on the child and do not equate the child and their value with their school performance. You can focus on what you can change, and there is no sense being frustrated about what you cannot change. You can influence the structure of the day, writing down the schedule and organizing activities that will not exhaust you and the child but make your day easier. Introduce fun and try to make learning, tasks and responsibilities enjoyable because you will find it easier to fulfil obligations together with your child.
Talk to your child about what kind of cool bag / pencil case they want, what activities/sports they want to engage in, what excursions you can plan for autumn weekends. Therefore, don’t worry beforehand and mark the beginning of the school year with negative emotions, but make those thoughts fun so you can look forward to autumn!
Patricija Haček Zuber, mag.psych.