Dealing with having a school age child.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sending your first child to school can be a daunting experience for both parent and child as emotions tangle and twist  We seem to spend all day clock watching until they come home yet once we collect them we can be left with the feeling that we left one child at school yet they hand you an entirely different one to take home again.
  • Take a snack
A whole day at school is draining on many levels, whether they realise it or not they're flaming knackered.  Tiredness can have a direct link to behaviour as can hunger.  Take a healthy high energy snack such as a banana or even some home-made flapjack to prevent their behaviour from plummeting.
  •  Hold fire
It's natural to want to know everything about their day, you've missed them and their voice.  So they've come out of school and you want to know what they did, what they ate, what they played, who they played with and you're met with 'Can't remember' ... 'can't remember' .... 'don't know'.  How can they not know? They've been there all day?  It's frustrating and they appear sulky and enthused which in turn makes us worry that maybe they hate it, maybe they had a rubbish time, maybe they're angry at us for sending them.  Worse, maybe they didn't miss us.  Our chirpy, cheerful, adorable best friend doesn't appear to want to talk to us.  It's okay.  It's really not about you.  They're tired, possibly overwhelmed and they're still processing their day themselves.  Let them adjust to the transition of school to home.  Give them a hug, tell them you missed them and ask them if they had a good day at school, and accept the yes/no answer for now.  If you feel uncomfortable in their silence pick something different to chat about, relay your day to them or discuss things you see on the way home.
  •  Hulk syndrome

Don't be alarmed if your little angel turns into Hulk when you get home.  They're argumentative, volatile and bloody hard work. Oh my god, what has school done to them?!  School is a big change for them.  It's hard work having to do as you're told all day, learning new boundaries and new skills.  The teachers assure you they're wonderful at school, everything you hoped they'd be yet they come home and they're horrid.  Don't laugh but this is actually a compliment to your parenting.  The fact that they let go when they let home is testament to how secure they feel at home and how secure they are in your love for them that they feel able to let go the pent up energy and frustrations of having to be good all day at school.  If you're like this at school, there's dire consequences, people and teachers may not like you, you may be seen as a failure or labelled and you may be excluded, not just in the traditional school sense but socially too.   Never underestimate the concentration and effort it takes to be a school child.  At home they can lash out safe in the knoweldge that you will love them anyway.  How often have you had a bloody awful day and inadvertently taken it out on your spouse?  We're often most awful to those we love most because we trust that they will take it, absorb it and then help us calm.  It's natural and normal. They're adjusting.
  •  Choose your questions carefully

Sometimes simply asking a huge open ended question like 'How was your day at school?' although giving them the most scope and room to answer it is actually more likely to get the shorted answer.  I usually allow Things One and Two an hour or so at home to aclimatise then ask specific questions over time such as:

* What was your favourate thing about school today?
* Was there anything you didn't like about school today?
* Who made you smile/laugh the most today?
* Did anyone make you sad or angry today?
*What did you eat for dinner/who did you have your dinner with?
* What did you do at playtime?

Through being specific it aids their reflection and recollection and gives opportunity for you to gain an insight into how their day went as well as giving you early warning signs to any potential problems.

  •  After school activities
Don't go wild with planning extra curricular activities.  Sometimes kids can gain just as much from being allowed to chill at home.  Sometimes they need to touch base at home, absorb family time and alone time.  To not have to do anything.
  • Time chores
Let them know what to expect, if they need to tidy their room or put their ashing away let them know they they have to do x and it needs doing by a certain time.  Don't leave it until the end of the day when they're overtired and likely to cause arguments.
  •  Reconnect
Take time out to reconnect with your child after a busy day.  Physical re-connection is just as vital as verbal, whether you're snuggling up on the sofa with them watching tv or reading a story together or even playing a game, a hug or a squeeze speaks loudly to the soul and the words it speaks are 'I love you.  You're home.'  Forget the pots of the washing and the tidy your rooms for a bit, if only for twenty minutes and just 'be' together.


  1. Well done on your post! I must admit I agree with pretty much everything you have said! Although for me it has taken me about three years to learn all of these helful hints and tips - I'm clearly a slow learner!;) I hope someone else reads your post and can benefit much sooner than me!x

  2. Thank you so much for commenting Sophie :) I'm always worried people will think i'm trying to teach them to suck eggs but it's all stuff I wish someone had told me at the time!

  3. Those are good tips! I hope I remember them when my little one starts school, something which makes me nervous to think about!

    1. Even though I have two at school already, I am dreading my youngest starting! Thank you for commenting :)


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