The Changeover from Home to School by Sophie Baber
I am sure the start of the academic year has been a busy one in every household, as uniforms are checked and labelled, new school shoes bought and bedtime routines run to a slightly earlier time frame. Life in general has been gearing up to being back in school.
For some parents this will bring with it a sense of gloom. The carefree days of summer are drawing to an end and the opportunity for spur of the moment adventures diminishes. For others, the return to school feels like a release. The daily chores can be completed without little ones in tow and the time spent with children becomes quality, not quantity. No doubt there are many of us whose emotions fluctuate as we see the positives from both perspectives. The reality is feeling one way or another does not define you as a parent and no one should ever feel guilty for their emotions; however, as parents, we do need to think carefully about how we communicate our feelings with our children.
Our children are sponges. They absorb what we say and more importantly, how we behave, without us even realising it. The connection we establish with our children does affect our child’s development, their ability to build meaningful relationships and to express their emotions. It also affects their relationship with school.
The reality is children at Highfield and Brookham love school. What’s not to love? With staff who pour their hearts and souls into caring for and teaching our children, a breadth in curriculum that ensures there’s something for everyone, food that one would praise if served in any restaurant and a childhood filled with climbing trees, paint splatters, friends, smiles and laughter. As we all know, Highfield and Brookham are slices of schooling heaven.
Despite loving school, some of our children will find that changeover from home to school difficult. So, what can you as parents do to ease this transition?
Keep calm. Whether you feel like bursting into tears or cheering, keep your emotions in check. The car journey to school is a good time to practise your deep breathing! Then once you arrive at school, stick a smile upon your face; look your child in the eyes as you help them out of the car and walk them purposefully and calmly into school.
Clear communication. Tell your child when you will next see them. Don’t make promises you can’t keep and try not to fall into the trap of bribing them. If you have said you will see them at the end of the school day or after Lego Club, try and be the first parent at the door. Don’t be the last!
Find support. Speak to the class or form teacher. Your child might find the hubbub and energy of morning drop off overwhelming. Would it be easier to bring them to school five minutes earlier when the classroom is calm and quiet? Hand your child to an adult they know well. This person can immediately help put your child at ease and engage them in something that they love doing.
Stay patient and positive. If things are not going according to plan, patience is the key. Notice the small improvements and tell your child how proud of them you feel. Don’t feel discouraged. Together we will get there, so keep talking to us and remember this is a journey.
Reconnect. At the end of the day, when you collect your child, it is important that you reconnect with them. Once again this should be in a calm manner, not an overly charged emotional state. Give them a huge hug. Ask them about the best bit of their day. Focus on the fun in school.
Finally, remember that your child’s feelings are valid and important. When the time is right for you both, listen to their concerns and do not dismiss them. Treat these moments as special. It won’t be long before home becomes synonymous with hotel and you’ll look back on these challenging moments with fond affection.
Sophie Baber, Headteacher at Brookham School