New School Year – Time to check in?
The school year is well underway and for some young people it was probably a smooth transition back into the school year, with the return of routine and predictability of a school schedule. For others however, it may have been a little rockier and they may not feel like they have settled back into the groove quite yet. Perhaps they aren’t feeling confident with their friendships, or about what is expected from them both at school and home. Or perhaps for those transitioning into high school, they are feeling a little bit lost and wishing for the safety and familiarity that primary school had provided for them. And what about parents and carers? How are you settling in to the new school year? It can be a time of relief that the kids are back at school or a time of worry, as you help your young person navigate their return to school.
As we are almost midway through Term 1, it might be a good time to check in with your child to see how they are doing with their new year of school life. For parents of younger children, this may be as simple as pulling out an activity to do with them; like a board game, cards, colouring/craft activity or heading outside to shoot some hoops or kick a ball around. These types of activities provide a great space to ask about teachers, friends, schoolwork, what are they enjoying or what are they disliking about school. Their responses will help you gauge if there are any concerns you may need to address. Keep in mind that your child might not be able to find the words to describe what is going on for them, so sometimes you have to be a bit of a detective to make sure they are doing okay.
For your older child, getting this kind of conversation started could be more challenging. As children reach their teens they are growing towards more independence and don’t always want to share as much as they did when they were younger. But don’t let this stop you from taking the time to let them know you are there for them or that you are interested in their life. Some teens will still enjoy connecting over a board game or kicking a ball around the park, but for others, you are going to have to get creative with ideas on how to get that resistant teen talking! It may be offering to take them to the local trendy café that has drinks or food that would be totally worth an Instagram post; or engaging in something that is important to them, might be the key. Try asking them what their favourite Meme or TikTok video is that week, or what ones are trending to get the conversation started. Focusing on whatever their interests are is key to connecting.
Once you have built a connection, they are more likely to open up about what is happening for them in their school world. By simply letting them know that you are around to listen or interested in ways to connect and enjoy time together, will help support building your relationship. Though don’t let a check in like this turn into an argument or nagging about a messy bedroom. You are trying to connect and let them know you are there for them, so the best way to do this is to just listen and support.
The idea of checking in with your children at this time of year is really letting them know that as a parent or carer you are there for them, and that you want to be a help if they need it.
If you do have ongoing concerns or questions regarding your child, don’t hesitate to contact the school and speak to the relevant teacher.