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Beat those back-to-school blues

 
While many parents are only too grateful when the back-to-school advertisements start appearing, the start of a new school year can be a traumatic time for many children.
Susan Erasmus

Pic: Getty Images

Article originally in Health24
New teachers, new classmates, new subjects or even a brand new school all have their own stresses and strains. Remember how you cried when your best friend from Grade 2 was in a different Grade 3 class? Or the time you left your lunchbox at home, someone stole your tracksuit top and the class bully kicked you on the shin?

Tips for parents at the start of the new school year

Be an early bird.
Everyone has been on holiday for ages and sleeping rather late is probably part of their routine by now. Get an early start on the first day (and an early night before), so that there’s time for a decent breakfast as well as the traffic jams on the first school day.

Have a dress rehearsal.
Sort out that school uniform at least a week before the start of term. The uniform stockists have a horrible habit of running out of school jumpers and socks three days before the start of term. Get the kids dressed in their full uniforms a few days before school starts. That way the uniforms will seem less foreign on the big day.

Pack a healthy lunch.
An interesting lunchbox goes a long way to brightening up the first day. Being in such a regimented environment is a shock to anyone after such a long holiday. Nice sandwiches, fresh fruit, milkshake or fruit juice and a chocolate or a favourite snack could do wonders for the morale.

Phone a friend.
Especially if a child is in a new school, take trouble to get hold of another child in the same standard. Ask around at work, or even phone the school secretary. Things are so much less daunting if a child at least recognises one other person in the class.

Stop and drop.
Drop off your kids or walk them to school for the first few days. It shows them you care. No one, except perhaps those children going to school for the first time, want their parents hanging about outside the classroom.

Grade 1 blues.
If your child is going to school for the first time, keep your emotions under control, difficult as it may be. The child is stressed enough without having to cope with floods of tears from its parents. Also, your tears may also convey the message that school is a really fearful place where nasty things happen.

General first day blues.
Many children come home from the first day with a list of complaints about all and sundry. Don’t take them too seriously, unless the same complaints still surface a week later. Remember what you felt like after your first day back at work.

Don’t go on a stationery spending spree.
Many teachers have specific requirements when it comes to stationery, so you might be spending money unnecessarily. Check first before going to town. Basics like a pen, pencil, eraser, ruler, sharpener and some coloured pencils should suffice for the first day.

Knowledge is power.
Alert the school and the teacher if your child has any medical condition such as diabetes or asthma. They should also know if your child has any problems with hearing or sight.

Make your child blend in.
Don’t buy the purple school bag you really liked if every other child in the school has a khaki satchel. Don’t make your child stand out in any way initially, as children can be cruel and pick on those who are different.

Back off.
If you keep hovering or intervening in minor classroom tiffs your child has with other children, the message you are sending is that the world is a dangerous place and that you have no faith in your child’s ability to fight his or her own battles.

Prepare for the covering marathon.
Older children can and should do this for themselves, but younger ones might need considerable assistance from you. Buy enough paper, plastic and adhesive tape in advance.

Go hand in hand.
If a child has to go to a new school or go by means of a new mode of transport, it might be wise to accompany them the first few times until they are familiar with the route.
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