Starting a new school year can be extremely exciting. There are new friends to be made, new adventures to explore and new opportunities for growth and learning. But for many kids, this time brings up the anxiety of the unknown, a sense of nervousness and the feeling of a loss of control. As caretakers, our role is to make the unfamiliar feel safe, secure and manageable, even when we are not physically around.
In my experience, many children feel most supported when they have a routine and rhythm. This sets their expectations, allows for a sense of security and reduces overall anxiety, allowing them to be their best self in and out of the school playground.
A great way to implement a sense of routine and familiarity is to have a regular morning ritual – something you can do together before leaving home – that they will learn to associate with starting the day in a positive way. For example, choosing one card from your SunChild deck can help settle concerns about school and create a safe space for discussion and sharing. The more your child can relax and feel settled, the more confident they will feel about the world around them (the same can even be said for us adults!).
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS AND TRICKS TO MANAGE BACK-TO-SCHOOL SEPARATION ANXIETY AND WORRIES:
Implement a back-to-school routine with a regular wake-up and bed-time, ideally one week prior to the school term start.
Create a packed lunch together – asking your child what they want for morning tea and lunch for the first week.
Stick to familiar routines, prioritising calming activities in the evening if your child is feeling anxious (pulling a SunChild card and reading it before bed is a life-hack for this!).
Help your child pack their bag the night before (maybe even slip a SunChild card in the bag for when you are not there in class!). It might also help to lay out their clothes for the next day and shoes (they always seem to go missing in the morning rush).
Use positive, encouraging language on the way to school – remind them you will be there to pick them up.
Try not to make a big deal over the goodbye (as hard as that may be!). Once your little one is settled in the classroom, give them a final reassurance and then leave.
Limit extracurricular activities and commitments – the start of school can be very tiring so hold off on the organising until kids have settled into a solid routine.
Finally, check-in on how you are feeling as a parent. The start of the year can be a nervous time for both carers and children. It’s important to become conscious of your own fears and anxieties – being cautious not to transmit these to your children. The more you stay present and make school an exciting and fun time, the better the school transition will go.
SunChild affirmation cards are the perfect tool for creating a soothing ritual of stillness and grace before (and after!) school. Choosing a card together can be a beautiful way of calming your child and creating a safe space to discuss feelings and worries, whilst also building their self-esteem for the day ahead. No matter what “I am…” statement your child receives, know that it will carry them through their day with the intention of support and strength.
Keep your light shining, always,
“Libby was worried about a school today and picked out happy this morning, she took it with her in her school bag to remind her that although she was nervous she also needed to be happy. Thank you so much. She skipped into school and her teacher just sent a picture of her very happy! What a lovely gift you gave her today. She just needed to remember today."- Debra Lazare, Mummy to Libby SunChild (10)