We’ve just completed Week 3 of Term 1 in 2019 and this is a time when a case of ‘back to school blues’ can raise its troublesome head. The novelty of a new class, teacher and classmates has worn off and the back to school blues are threatening to become a part of 2019 for your child.
The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. So many people experience this that blogs, journals and all sorts of talks have been done on the subject. I found a particularly helpful article in an issue of Principals’ Digests (acknowledgement Mindshift) and here are eight things that I think will assist anyone experiencing the back to school blues.
1. Listen to your child. Make time to really listen and tune in to what they are saying and the emotions behind their concerns. Parents are a safe place for children to help them develop the language around expressing emotions. Don’t dismiss their fears or hear only what you want to hear. Reflect back to them what you think they are saying. This will show them you understand or encourage them to explain the situation more clearly.
2. Be specific. Once you have listened in general, see if you can help your child pinpoint the specific problem or anxiety. It could be worrying about completing an assignment, making friends, feeling like they are falling behind in one area or just vague feelings of tiredness. Keep asking questions and when specific problems are identified help your child problem-solve a solution.
3. Let them be the experts. Part of problem solving is having them come up with solutions that will help them feel better. Let them come up with the ideas and help them work through a process for putting them into practice. This will also build life-long resilience in your child right through to their adult years.
4. Positive messaging. Create a positive expectation without dismissing their concerns. Ask them what they enjoyed most during the day; which subjects they are finding interesting; who they played with and what they learned. Talk about things they can look forward to and look back on past school experiences they enjoyed.
5. Talk through previous triumphs. Remind them of their own successes with similar situations. If they are worried about going on camp remind them of the previous camps they were concerned about and how much they ended up enjoying them. If they haven’t been on camp before find similar experiences they can relate to. Reassure them that they have the tools to get through the challenge ahead. They have overcome their fears in the past and can do it again in the future.
6. Reach out to the teacher. Teachers appreciate learning anything that will help them improve their connections with your child. They spend a lot of time trying to figure out each student to help them on their education journey. All of our teachers email details (Primary Teachers; Secondary Teachers) are on our website so it’s as simple as dropping a quick email e.g. “Tim is worried about (insert concern here) on Year 5 camp, can you please talk to him about it.”
7. Chill out after school. Give them a break after school to have a snack and relax together. A few minutes of quiet or light conversation can be good for the whole family.
8. If blues persist, seek help. Be patient and allow time for adjustment but if the struggle continues or seems to worsen, seek more help. Begin with the classroom teacher, or pastoral care teacher in Secondary, and partner together to help your child beat the back to school blues. Don’t forget that we also have five College Pastors who are also only too happy to help your child.
Mike Curtis, Principal