There was great excitement in our house last week as our youngest started Junior Infants. We’ve all been "nerve-cited", as she says. Our eldest happily walked into 3rd class as her little sister bounced with an awkward skip in her step through the school doors. I am overly conscious that the excitement may become apprehension as the weeks go on and that separation anxiety may rear its ugly head again, but I know how to handle that.
I am also on the lookout for how the excitement and build-up to the new school year may create back-to-school blues for our 8-year-old. Despite having a new teacher and room this year, the reality of returning to school may hit a little further in September for kids who have slipped out of habits, and the new school year begins to seem daunting. So, how do we handle if our little one gets the back-to-school blues?
Talk And Connect
Talk to your little one about their concerns. Opening up the conversation with your child will help you figure out what makes them feel so low and how you can help them ease back into this transition. They may be reluctant to talk, so encourage open-ended questions that don’t end up with simple yes or no answers.
Get Them Involved
Encouraging our kids to participate in clubs or activities does not mean we are trying to keep them busy and avoid the blues. Kids can develop their social skills and self-esteem by participating in group activities. Both of these life skills can help counter the blues.
Encourage Quiet Time
While school is a controlled environment, it is also a place of sensory overload. Kids are asked to sit still, concentrate and focus, learn, socialise, and control their behaviours. This is exhausting for anyone. When they come home, the TV can seem like a good way to relax, but it is also over-stimulating. Encourage quiet time with gentle music, reading without loud noises and bright lights.
Take Small Steps
The blues can linger as our kids get used to the normal school routine. Take small steps to encourage them back into a schedule with habits that will benefit them, such as eating healthy, relaxing in the evening, and connecting with family. The blues may not disappear overnight and are certainly not kept to the first week back.
If your child’s reluctance to go to school or their worries and blues continue, consider talking to the teacher to see if there is a bigger issue at hand. There may be something more happening that you may need to get to the bottom of.