Is your child looking forward to school or scared to death? Does your child feel secure about leaving home or frightened that something terrible may happen? Is your child familiar with what the school and classrooms will look like? Are there friends who will be there too? If not, is there someone to go along and help on that first day in the new place? As a parent of a child already in school, are you aware of past and potential problems? Does your child develop exam anxiety, complain each weekday morning of headache or stomach ache, avoid doing homework, have conflicts with teachers? Does your child seem unmotivated and uninterested or at the opposite extreme, spend too much time out of school studying and worrying? Is your child frustrated too easily?
You, as a parent, may not realize your importance in helping your child cope with school. Children have not learned how to handle every situation that arises away from home. Teachers are committed to providing a good environment for learning and to helping students as much as possible. Many, however, are dealing with larger and larger numbers of students and may have little time for one child’s problems.
The ideal situation is one in which parents, teachers and child work together to improve the learning situation both in and out of class. Many problems in the older grades have their roots in the early school years. By being alert to your child’s progress, personality and social skills early on and helping your child as needed, you can prevent many difficulties later.
Remember, school is meant to be a laboratory for acquiring skills in the areas of:
The skills and problem-solving abilities a child gains in and out of school are the springboard for going forward in the world. If these lessons are learned well during the school years, your child will have a much better chance for lifelong success and happiness. As a parent or caregiver, your help at this very important time around this very important activity may be one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child.
If your child seems to be avoiding school due to illness, set some criteria for staying home. Every parent of a school-aged child will face the need to decide if a child is really sick or is avoiding school. It may be helpful to set some ground rules which you use if your child stays at home with illness. For instance:
If the illness persists, take your child to your family doctor to assess the situation. It is important to rule out a serious medical condition early. A fever that lasts for three days may mean the child is suffering from an illness that needs medical treatment. A recurring stomach ache or headache may be due to stress, but may also signal a medical condition or serious underlying problem. Your family doctor will help to decide if the problem requires treatment, further investigation or a plan for stress management.