Help children ease into new grade as school year starts
As families welcome the new school year, sometimes parents can forget a child’s need to ease into a new grade, says Joy Rouse a Human Sciences Specialist, Family Life, with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
The child who enters school this fall is not the same one who started this time last year. He or she may be different physically, mentally and emotionally.
“Your child also may be in a different class with a different teacher, maybe even in a different building or school,” Rouse said.
Children who did well last year probably will do fine this year. However, children are susceptible to pressures in school. Adjusting to change can affect their school work, at least for a while.
“During these first few weeks of school, you need to be patient,” Rouse said. “Show your understanding for any adjustments your child has to make. Offer lots of encouragement and support.”
Parents who have particular concerns or worries should share them with their child’s teacher. While some children may find change hard, in time most children will adjust just fine. Adults can help ease the transition from home and summer fun to school and studies.
Rouse offers some hints.
• Treat school as a normal activity. Don’t give the impression there is any choice about whether or not a child goes to school. “If your child says, “I’m not going,” calmly let him or her know you hear the concerns about school and will help him or her work through them,” Rouse said.
• Let children talk about school. Remember, all feelings are acceptable so don’t force them to be happy or excited. They may be disappointed, upset or even frightened.
• Answer honestly all questions about school and what to expect. It is the unknown that is frightening to children.
• Enlist the help of siblings and other adults. Don’t let them scare children with stories of how terrible school is or share their own bad experiences.
• Allow plenty of time to talk about the day’s events after everyone gets home. Don’t push too hard for information, but promote an atmosphere where children will feel comfortable about sharing what happened at school.
For information, visit Science of Parenting, http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/, or Just in Time Parenting, www.extension.org/parenting.