The school year has started! It’s really a time of new beginnings, both for the kindergarteners who have started school for the very first time and for all of the “old pros” going back to school. Children are meeting new teachers and have a chance to start fresh.
But what about parents? As you watch your child starting school this year, are you carrying memories and ideas about school from your past? Are your own past experiences in school affecting how your child approaches his new school or teacher?
If you had a tough time at school, you are not alone. For various reasons, a lot of parents may not have very fond memories of school. And that may mean that you are not so enthusiastic when your talk to your child about school. Or maybe you are worried that she will have the same kinds of difficulties that you had. Maybe you don’t want to pass on these bad feelings or worries, but what can you do to prevent them? We have some things to try:
- Try to talk as positively as possible about school with your child. If you had a really tough time in school, sharing not-so-positive memories could cause your child to develop negative expectations about school. He might get anxious or perhaps even resist following rules. This could set him up to have a hard time. Instead, try to remember anything positive about your experiences and share those instead. For example, if you really enjoyed recess, you could say “You know, I made a lot of good friends at school and we really enjoyed playing outside at recess.” Or if there was just one teacher or school staff member who you really liked, you could talk about him or her with your child.
- Consider that your child’s school experiences are likely to be different your own. Lots of things change over time. Even if your child is attending the same school that you did, it is likely that the staff has changed and school policies and practices are different than when you attended. Give your child’s school and teachers the benefit of a clean slate to start off the school year.
- Get to know your child’s teacher and school staff. This can help with your own worries. Teachers and school staff want what is best for children and meeting them will help you to find this out. Also, if your child does need some extra help or has some difficulties at school, you will already know the people to talk to.
- If your child does start to experience the same sorts of things that you did, reach out to the school. Teachers and staff are there to help and they have resources for your child. The family resource coordinators at many schools can also be very helpful. If you still don’t feel that your concerns are addressed after reaching out to these folks, your pediatrician or health care provider can be another great resource.
There are lots of reasons why parents may have had difficulties at school. If this happened to you, it can take courage and determination to let go of your not-so-good feelings about school. But you CAN help your child to have better experiences and to create happy family memories of school!
Image: © Maxim Popov| Dreamstime.com