Helping children deal with back-to-school nerves
I often hear parents say that their children can get very nervous about starting school for the first time and even going back to school after the summer break. If this is your child, then rest assured that it’s really normal and lots and lots of children experience this. You might be interested in a recent piece by our parenting writer, Jo Wiltshire, about how to help children enjoy a positive start here.
My personal expertise is helping to give children the tools to deal with these changes and new situations through drama. At Perform, we have a weekly focus where we explore new situations through role-play and improvisation. For example, in our classes this week, our mascot PF is worried about how he’s going to make friends in a strange and unfamiliar world. So we give PF ways of dealing with his anxiety and hopefully, the children will learn that:
- it’s fine and normal to feel nervous.
- other children feel like this in new situations too.
- there are simple ways to help if you’re going through this.
These exercises also teach awareness to children who aren’t nervous and helps them look out for those who might be and empathise.
I think we all learn better by example so everything we suggest is communicated via acting out a fun story, a crazy dance or a catchy song or rap - which is so much more effective that just telling the children what they should do.
If you have a child that’s worried at home, you might want to try a very simple role-play with them where they have to meet you for the first time and you have to find out three things about each other. It’s called Speed Detective but you can adapt for home easily too. The first time you do it, you can be yourselves, but the next time you could be jungle animals, or under the sea characters or football players. You can tailor it for their interests and age, but the reason for playing is to get your child to practise engaging with a new person. Then when they have to do it for the first time in school, they will feel more at ease.
You can go to my suggested Games To Play At Home by clicking here.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has ideas to share on how they helped their child prepare too. Do get in touch and let me know.