Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Easing into back to school

Published:Sunday | August 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

We can all remember looking forward to that break from school, where we could finally stay up late watching or playing our favourite games. Maybe it was going to the country and experiencing a new environment, creating fun memories with your cousins and grandparents or travelling overseas with your parents. Summer break is easy; returning to school may be difficult. Sure we're excited to see our 'bffs' and tell them all about our adventures. But one remembers the anxiety of the first day of school. A week in, we are either exhausted or finally getting into school mode.

The new school year, even if it is the same school, comes with its own fair share of anxiety. Outlook sought the expertise of Clinical Psychologist Justine Campbell to give few tips on how to get children back into school mode while still enjoying what's left of summer.

1. Ease into school routines - This is especially important for the younger children. Help them prepare for school two weeks before by putting them on sleep and meal schedules that are in sync with school days. This reduces fatigue, allowing them to feel more rested when school begins. This also enhances memory, mood and motivation, which is vital for learning.

2. Academic refreshers - Providing brief academic assignments can help ease children back into their school routine and increase their ability to perform well from the start. Don't overwhelm them. Just a few math problems, writing and reading. Make it fun with educational games like Scrabble, and have them act out what they've read in books, amidst the summer activities.

3. Find out about school anxieties - Many children anticipate returning to school, but some may be anxious. Talk to your child about how they feel about going back-to-school and see in what ways you can help. For example, if your child is worried about seeing friends again, have some peer get-togethers or a back-to-school party before school starts. If they are worried about a new teacher, see if you can arrange for your child to meet the teacher before or talk to another child who previously had that teacher. For older children, who may experience more peer pressure, have ongoing conversations with them about their values and who they are, interact a lot as a family, and reassure him/her that it's ok to say 'no' to something they are not interested in doing.

4. Shopping - Involve your children in back-to-school shopping. It will help them become more excited about returning. They may also help to identify any additional tools that may be useful to them, for example, organisers and planners.

5. Bullying - Your child may be more anxious about school if they have a history of being bullied. Assist your child with identifying trusted adults at school who can help, like teachers, administrators, counsellors or other staff.

6. Take your children on fun but educational trips, for example, find ways to tie in biology with trips to the zoo, Dolphin Cove, or Chukka Cove; spend a day doing something fun but let your child buy the food and calculate how much change he or she should get back. You can even make an event of going to the library.

Justine East - Associate Clinical Psychologist

Caribbean Tots to Teens

120 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6

Contact: 876-978-8535

Email: justine.east@caribtots2teens.com; www.caribtots2teens.com