School is a big milestone in any child’s life, whether they are starting school or the first time at four years old or changing schools when they are eleven. These big milestones can be huge for them as well as you and there are things that you can do to make it easier for them.
Telling Them What to Expect
It is a good idea to share information with them so that they know what to expect. Be positive though, so if you hated school then try to tell them just the parts that you liked or get someone else to talk to them about it. Try to recall interesting and funny stories so they will feel like it will be fun for them as well. Give them practical information as well so how they will be expected to behave what the day routine might be like and the sorts of things they might learn. If there are opportunities for them to visit the school then make sure they go as this will help them as well.
Teaching Them Coping Skills
You may wonder whether there are certain skills that they will need. It can be wise to speak to the school and ask them. With first time starters it is likely that teachers will want them to know how to put on their own coat, cope in the bathroom alone and know to raise their hand when they want to speak to the teacher. They will also find it useful if they can change quickly and easily into their PE kit. They will also get tired and so going to bed early could help them as well.
When they change schools they will be older but will still get tired and need an early bed time. They may need some help with tips on making friends as they are likely to be mixing with lots of new people. This can be hard to teach, but there are books that might be helpful for them. It is hard though, as making friends with teenagers is very different to making friends as an adult and so you will need to find resources relevant to their age. Perhaps videos or online resources put together by young people could be useful. They may also be taking a bus for the first time or walking a longer distance, so they will need to be prepared for this too. Having lots of different teachers, finding their way around a larger building and learning lots of new subjects can be a big change, so make sure they know they will have to do this and help them by showing them how to use a map of the school and telling them about the different topics they will be learning about.
Helping Them Study
Studying is something that many parents get worried about. They want their children to do really well and some will help them or pay for a tutor to do this. It is good to be careful though. When they first start school, it is likely that the teacher will have their own ways of doing things and may rather they have no prior teaching. This could be because they may have to undo the teaching that has already been done, particularly if it is done by parents as they will not ne aware of the new methods of teaching which will be different to how they were taught.
In primary school their academic ability is not really that important. They will be learning basics and most children will catch up in time anyway. It is only if you want them to go to a grammar school will you need to think about preparing them as they will sit entrance exams. Parents will often use tutors to help coach their children to pass these exams or some parents will do it themselves. It is worth being careful though as children that are just coached to pass one exam may struggle to keep up with regular lessons.
Once they change schools, there will be lots more homework and emphasis on preparing for exams. This is where parents can be more helpful in gently encouraging children and giving them time and space to do their homework. Taking an interest in what they are doing and noticing when they need help and how you can help can also be very helpful. It may mean more communication with school as well to get them the help that they need.