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Supporting Your Child To Settle Into School: A Compassionate Approach For Parents

Supporting Your Child To Settle Into School: A Compassionate Approach For Parents

The school term is now well underway and the doorstep photos are already a distant memory, but for some children it may not be the case that they are past the first day nerves. The truth is many children face challenges when it comes to settling into school, and some take a lot longer than the initial first day apprehension. This longer transitional period can be worrying for both parents and their little ones. Adding to this, it can feel daunting trying to find the right approach in supporting your child with a compassionate approach. Conflicting advice on how to tackle this issue can cause confusion as a parent, and prolong the suffering for the child. In this article, lets explore some strategies to assist your child in settling comfortably into school using a compassionate, attachment parenting style.

A compassionate approach to helping your child settle into school

1. Acknowledge Their Feelings

If your child is struggling to settle into school, the first step is to acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to feel anxious or uncertain in new surroundings. Reassure them that you are there to support them and that their feelings are valid.

2. Open Communication

One of the most effective strategies for supporting your child is to encourage open and honest communication with your child. Create a safe space where they can share their feelings and concerns about school. Ask them specific questions about what’s troubling them, such as whether they find the work too challenging or if they’re having difficulty making friends. Listen attentively and show empathy towards their struggles. Try not to dismiss their feelings with sweeping statements such as “you haven’t given it any time” or “it’s early days” as this can invalidate your child’s feelings which can result in them retreating from you and not sharing their struggle, which can lead to further issues. One thing that is important to remember here is that you shouldn’t start these conversations IMMEDIATELY after school. Start them when you’re both calm and have time to have the conversation at a pace that suits your child. Side by side activities are a great way to start these conversations as both the activity and the lack of eye contact allow the child to relax more into the conversation.

3. Meet with Teachers

You should feel empowered to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss their challenges and seek guidance on how to address them. Teachers can provide valuable insights into your child’s behaviour in the classroom. Working collaboratively with the school can help identify specific areas where your child may need extra support.

4. Establish a Consistent Routine

A consistent routine is crucial for children, especially those who are struggling to settle into school. Where possible you should encourage regular bedtimes, mealtimes, and a structured after-school routine. Predictability can help them feel more secure and in control. Where this is not possible, and with modern family structures this is not always possible, then make sure that you clearly communicate what is happening and when so that your child can feel in control of what is happening. If they are unsure of who is picking them up for example this can cause anxiety, or if they are tired from a few late nights this can exacerbate their feelings in the classroom. If you are co-parenting this can cause additional strain so ensure that you are communicating with your partner to ensure consistency for the child wherever possible.

Related: How to support your child after contact with a co-parent

5. Support Homework and Study Time

If your high school child is finding schoolwork challenging, provide a quiet and comfortable space for them to complete their homework and study. Offer assistance when needed but encourage them to develop independent study skills. Praise their efforts and progress, no matter how small. If your home environment cannot provide this, for whatever reason, then consider external spaces. There are some fabulous local community spaces such as the public library, or children’s centre, or even a local café. Showing interest in their studies and what they are learning can have a huge impact on their confidence and willingness to engage.

6. Encourage Social Connections

Help your child build friendships by organising playdates or outings with classmates outside of school hours. Socialising with peers can boost their confidence and make the school environment feel more familiar and friendly. The key here is not to push too much – this can have the opposite effect. If they are really unwilling or unable to build connections with other children in their class then exploring extracurricular activities could be a great strategy…

7. Explore Extracurricular Activities

Enrolling your child in extracurricular activities that align with their interests can be a great way of enriching their life, making them more likely to engage in school. Whether it’s sports, music, or art, these activities can provide a sense of belonging and help them discover new passions. Explore different options and encourage your child to express themselves rather than just defaulting to stereotypical activities.

8. Seek Professional Help

If your child’s struggles persist and significantly impact their well-being or academic performance, consider seeking professional help. A parenting mentor like myself can help you with the relationship aspect with your child and how you support. If you think that you need specialist support then a child psychologist or counsellor could provide specific support.

9. Celebrate Small Achievements

This one is absolutely critical – acknowledging and celebrating your child’s small achievements and successes at school! Whether it’s completing a challenging assignment or making a new friend, positive reinforcement can boost their self-esteem and motivation no end, and when your child gets validation for their efforts they will be more inclined to continue to make the effort.

10. Stay Patient and Supportive

If you are serious about using a compassionate approach to supporting your child to settle into school then the key thing to remember is to remain patient and supportive during this time. It may take time for your child to adjust to the new school environment fully. Be a source of unwavering encouragement and love, and remind them that you believe in their abilities so that you strengthen your bond as a parent and they will have memories of your support shining through equal to or more than the trauma.

Supporting Your Child To Settle Into School: A Compassionate Approach For Parents

Helping your child settle into school, even after the term has started, requires understanding, patience, and open communication. By acknowledging their feelings, seeking assistance from teachers, and maintaining a consistent routine, you can support your child in overcoming their challenges and thriving in their educational journey. Remember that each child’s settling-in process is unique, and with your support, they can gradually adapt to their new school environment. If you think you could do with some parenting mentor support to help you with your relationship with your child, then please do reach out and get in touch to see how I can help you!

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