Confidence in the Classroom
By Anna, 1st September 2022
As children around the UK are returning to school, you may be worrying about typical teething issues that may be tricky for your child.
For some children the holidays were full of exciting activities splashed over social media; beaches and sunshine, family and laughter. For many, the school break is a time of juggling the expectations of what this six weeks should look like, work commitments vs childcare, finances vs the increase cost of living. However you got through the holidays, celebrate the fact that you did, indeed, get through the holidays. Your child will remember those extra hugs, late night movies and the cheeky lie ins that have protected everyone's sanity! They will look back on these days and smile.
You may have noticed your child's behaviour changing in the last week or so. Some children will be pushing boundaries, over excitable or simply subdued in the return to school. For others, it may be more subtle; a change in appetite or being unsettled at night time. The anticipation for the school return can be daunting for children as they negotiate a new classroom, a new teacher and new expectations. The return to the world of playing catch up with peers, dog eat dog popularity contests and finding - or controlling - their own voice in a group environment... Eek!
Here are some top tips to help your child to slide back into the classroom routine with a bit more confidence and a bit less anticipation:
1: Getting back into the swing of things. There will be a period of adjustment where children have to relearn rules and routines. You can support your child by reintroducing regular routines at home, regular mealtimes and a time for homework, bath and bed.
2. Magic mornings. I once read that there are 3 key times in the day when your child needs you to be most present and positive; mornings, immediately after school pick up and before bed. Leave plenty of time in the mornings for your child to get ready. Incorporate a morning plan that includes wellbeing as part of readiness. This might include affirmations - like the one shown here - to boost your child and give them a positive mindset. Try not to rush and always leave your child with a smile/hug/words of reassurance.
3: Independence and intiative. This one is all relative depending on your child's age and abilities. You can help your child succeed in the classroom by promoting their independence at home. For younger children, this might mean teaching them skills to dress themselves, put on coats and shoes, and tidy away their toys. Older children can be encouraged to help with chores, join in with cooking and be given responsibilities such as looking after pets. Try not to plan every moment of your child's day. Encourage them to entertain themselves at times; it might help if you limit screen time and promote outside play.
4: Confidence, concentration and impulse control. Children can find the expectations of school and large group social restrictions quite frustrating or even over-stimulating. Show your child ways that they can self-regulate their emotions to overcome anxiety, manage impulses and focus when needed. One great tool is using breathing strategies. A favourite of mine is starfish breathing which is also multi-sensory - check it out on an internet search.
5: Resilience. We shouldn't have to toughen our children up for this world, but there are times when your child will be supercharged if they develop some resilience and determination. Children sometimes get upset if they make mistakes or if they feel overwhelmed by a challenge. Build your child up. Remind them that mistakes show they are learning and that tackling challenges is like exercise for their brain. If we teach our children how to approach tricky tasks with positivity, they are more likely to push through any frustration and be able to celebrate their achievements when they succeed. Celebrate with them! Be their safe space to come home to each and every day.