At this time of the year children, parents and teachers in Australia are thinking about the return to school which is approaching with haste. For some those thoughts are of excitement and expectation. For others they are of anxiety and dread.
While children have enjoyed the break from imposed structure and the pressure of school days and homework, many look forward to seeing their friends again and the routine of having something to do after long, lazy summer days. Others may feel anxious about being in a new class with a new teacher and new yet-to-be-made friends. For those starting at a new school, or school for the first time, there may be a confusion of feelings and vacillation between excitement and fear.
Parents, too, have mixed feelings about their children starting or returning to school. They may look forward to a return to routine and a relief from the pressure of providing full-time entertainment or alternative care arrangements. They may also experience feelings of loss when they hand their children over to the care of a stranger for most of the day. However, I think what parents most want for their children when they return to school, or indeed at any time, is for them to be happy.
Teachers experience a similar range and vacillation of feelings from excitement and expectation through to anxiety and dread. Even now many of those teachers are out fossicking through the cheap shops, scouring stationery and educational supply stores, looking for items for use in their classrooms. Others will be at home trawling the internet looking for resources, or making their own resources in preparation for the new school year.
One thing that is important to all is to begin the year positively and happily.
Strategies for parents
Some strategies parents can use to ensure their children begin the school year happily include:
- Talk to children in positive and supportive ways that will strengthen their optimism about returning to school, allay any fears and settle anxieties.
- Ensure children are aware of how they will travel to and from school, and of any arrangements that have been made for before or after school care.
- Familiarize children with the route to and from school by travelling it as they will be expected to, whether by foot, cycle, bus or car. If necessary, point out landmarks along the way.
- Make sure children know their first and last names, address and parents’ phone number/s.
- Have children’s equipment ready with books covered and every item identified with the child’s name.
- If possible, take the child to school on the first day and meet the teacher.
The positive feelings can be continued throughout the year by:
- Daily conversations about the school day: learning, events and friends.
- Volunteering in the class or school, or being involved with after school activities.
- Maintaining open and positive communication with the class teacher.
Strategies for teachers
Some strategies teachers can utilize to ensure that children (and parents) begin the school year happily include:
- Create a welcoming classroom with signs, posters, items of interest and inviting reading corners and activity nooks.
- Greet children and parents with a friendly smile.
- Engage children in activities that help you get to know them, and them to get to know each other.
- Display children’s work to give them a sense of ownership and belonging.
- Explain management and behaviour expectations and include children in composing a classroom management and behaviour plan.
- Ensure children know the school timetable; when the breaks will occur and any lessons to be taken by specialist or other teachers.
- Explain playground behaviour expectations, including showing areas where they may / may not play.
- Take them on a walk around the school to show them the library, office, bathrooms and any other areas they may need to know.
- Include singing during the day and send them home with a song and a reminder of what has been learned or engaged with during the day. (In a previous post Happy being me I wrote about Anne Infante’s songs of affirmation. Any of these are great ones to sing and help to create a positive environment.)
What other suggestions can you make?
What helped you as a child, parent or teacher prepare for the new school year?
Teachers, check out my new products on TEACHERSpayTEACHERS to help you set up your classroom and greet your new students with a Busy Bee theme. There are many resources to get you started, ready to download and print out.
Bee courtesy of Bernadette Drent, used with permission.
Other clipart courtesy of http://www.openclipart.org.