How to help your kids get ready for school

As our TV and shopping centres become saturated with "back to school" advertisements, it's a timely reminder to start getting ready for school as the summer holidays draw to a close.

While buying stationery and school books are often at the top of our to-do lists, these are my top tips for helping children prepare for school and setting them up for success:

1. Discussing school in a positive way

Despite whether your kid is starting at Scotch College or entering a new sub-school, each student will feel unfamiliar heading into a new year level. As a parent or guardian, discussing the changes your children may notice at school this year will help them smoothly transition into their next stage of learning.

It's essential to give children a break from school to recharge, but giving them notice – around one week before school returns – helps them mentally prepare to start school again. When talking about the start of school, it is essential to speak positively with them, as they may already feel nervous about it.

2. Constructively settling new year nerves

For some children, starting at a new school, sub-school or year level can cause nerves or anxiety. To help combat these unpleasant feelings, you can encourage your children to think about the positive aspects of returning to school or starting at their new school. Seeing or making friends, playing PSA sports, and studying their favourite subjects might be some of your kid's favourite parts of going to school.

If you know your child struggles with gearing up for school, drive past the school a few days before to help re-introduce the idea of attending school. If you have time, take them for a walk around the school grounds so they can re-familiarise themself with the campus.

Remind your child that they always have support available at Scotch College, including friends, teachers, homeroom teachers, House Heads, pastoral care leaders, Reverend Gary and the school psychologists.

3. Preparing early

In the days leading up to school, ask your children to check their bags and equipment to ensure they have everything they need. It's best to encourage them to pack their bags before the night before school starts, meaning they can relax and sleep well.

4. Getting a good nights sleep

One of the things that many children enjoy about school holidays is staying up late and sleeping in. Getting back into their routine isn't always easy, but you can help by encouraging them to return to their "school sleep pattern". Put a bedtime in place and encourage them to wake up when they usually would during the school term. Removing technology from bedrooms ensures that they can fall asleep without distractions.

5. Connecting with friends and peers

If your child hasn't spoken with many of his friends or peers, encourage them to catch up before school starts. It allows students to re-connect before school returns and gives them a reason to look forward to coming to school every day.

6. Being there for your child

If your child isn't looking forward to school, set a time to discuss it together without any distractions. Encourage them to be open and honest about how they're feeling. Although it can be easy to try and "fix" what is going on for your child, acknowledge what they're saying and refrain from dismissing their concerns.

To help your child, you can develop ideas to make school more bearable together. Alternatively, you could help them to set an achievable goal. After school has returned, check-in with them to see how school is going.

I hope you and your family had a lovely holiday, and we look forward to seeing your kids back at school next week.

Jon Marginis
Lead Psychologist

Learn more about Wellbeing at Scotch.

Images copyright Susie Blatchford of Pixel Poetry