With this in mind, let’s talk about you in this equation and then explore how you and your child can show up to school, together in your power suits!
Here are my top ten ways to help your child start the first day off right…
1. Calm Starts With You: You have the power to calm your child just by being calm. It goes back to the old adage ‘when the plane is going down put your oxygen mask on first’. Put yourself first by finding a technique that you can do daily that will clear your mind and calm your body so you can be fully present for you and your child. For some this adopting an exercise regime or adopting a yoga practice can be beneficial. In my case it’s putting time aside to meditate and write.
2. Mindfulness: There are lots of techniques out there that you can share with your children that are immensely helpful. I recommend you practicing them for at least a week before you pass them on to your child. Start with a walking meditation or mindful breathing. When you are practicing, do it where they can see. Gradually invite them to join you. A fantastic resource is ‘10 Mindful Minutes’ by Goldie Hawn. Check to see if it’s at your local library.
3. Impermanence: A tenant of mindfulness is Impermanence. ‘This too shall pass’ starts with you reminding yourself that the fear or anxiety your child feels around going to school will eventually subside. Accepting a situation as it is, instead of trying to force change or get frustrated, is often the best recipe. And for those of you that have children who start out with excitement and ease, sometimes this excitement seems to go on holiday in week 3 and they may start to resist going to school. This is perfectly normal so remember ‘This too shall Pass’.
4.Connect with Peers: During the transition mornings get some numbers of some of the kids in the class and try to organise a play date over the holidays. This way when they go to school on the first day there will be a few familiar faces to gravitate towards and their feelings of acceptance and connection, important ingredients for your child to feel safe at school, will already be in place
5. Tapping or EFT: There was about a year where I couldn’t get Leeloo, my oldest daughter, to go to child care. She became quiet distressed the night before and in the morning. There were days, she would be so hysterical, I couldn’t even get her into her car seat. I started using Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). There are lots of free resources on the Internet. We made tapping apart of our bedtime routine just before sleep. I am not sure who this helped more, me or her, but ultimately things shifted and we still use this technique when life gets hard.
6. Positive Visualization: Talk about all the things your child is looking forward to do when they go to school. Choose one, maybe its play on the play equipment. Get your child to close their eyes and think about playing on the play equipment. Ask questions: How do you feel? Who is with you? Are they new friends from your class or another class? What are you talking about? Add detail specific for your child.
7. Super Hero Stance: There has been research that demonstrated the way you hold your body can change your sense of self. Have your child put on their school uniform (or get dressed in the clothes they want to where to school) and stand in a super hero stance. How would their favourite super hero feel on the first day of school? In the month before spend two minutes a day in their favourite superhero stance.
8. Journal: Create a holiday journal with your child that they can share with their teacher and new friends. Put pictures of things they like, ticket stubs, brochures of special places they went, drawings, etc. The teacher will already have info about your child but this will be something special that they can share that will help the teacher get to know your child faster.
9. Cosmic Kids: Instead of computer games and T.V. check out Cosmic Kids on Youtube. It’s yoga through storytelling and they also produce a mindfulness program called ‘The Zen Den’.
10. Holiday Programs: Go to a holiday program at your school, dance school, art class, sporting club, etc. Find out if any of the new friends from class are doing anything interesting during the holidays or invite them to come along to one of these special activities. Creating fun memories together helps facilitate fun and a sense of connection with their peers.
If you are in Melbourne come to one of my ‘Mindful Storytelling’ workshops in January. We will be dancing and acting our way through stories while experiencing mindfulness and other techniques to give attendees new tools to prepare them for school life!
P.S. What are your thoughts and recommendations? What else could I add to this list of 10 that would help support children on their first day of school? Please leave a comment below or post on my facebook page.