As your child begins a new phase of his/her life as a primary school kid, I would like to share some tips for a less stressful transition (for you and for your child) based on my experience.
- Self-care: Expect to hear complaints aka feedback from teachers as your child tries to adjust to the new school and environment. It can get stressful for parents and practicing mindfulness can help. One of the exercises I find useful is the 4-2-4 breathing exercise. Breathe in through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 2 counts and breathe out through the nose for 4 counts. Do this for 10 minutes.
- Prepare your child on what to expect: Work closely with his/her therapist on what happens in school, how to pack the school bag.
- Visit the school: In addition to the orientation, walk around the school and show the main places. If a walkabout is not possible, ask for permission to take pictures and talk this through at home.
- Share what your child is like: Create a 1-page profile of your child to include things like: What your child likes, how he communicates, how he learns best, what causes anxieties, how he overcomes anxieties, what can motivate him to learn.
- Establish 2-way communication: Find out who are the main contact points in school for matters regarding your child. Is it the form teacher, Allied Educator (AED) ? Have a common understanding on how best to communicate on a regular basis. My personal preference is through WhatsApp, if that’s not possible, use the email, phone calls, face-to-face meeting.
- Be open to feedback: It can be stressful hearing complaints from the teachers. Rather than looking at a glass half empty, look at it as half full. Once you see the ‘complaints’ as feedback on how to support your child, you and the teachers then focus on how to manage the behaviour. Key thing is to find the trigger for the behaviour.
- Reinforce positive behaviour: It can be discouraging when the child gets attention when he/she misbehaves. Find ways to encourage and praise when he/she is doing better each day.
- Set an after-school routine: Having a routine after school helps your child to feel more settled especially when homework is given. Ideally, homework should be done later part of the afternoon, so that there is sufficient rest and play time.