child mental health, children, coaching parents, Deborah Beasley, Parenting, School, School anxiety, school anxious child, Special Needs, special needs help for school-anxious child, special parents, Stress and school
Parent + Teacher = A Successful Child
(c) By Deborah Beasley
ACPI Certified Coach for Parents and Families
Each year at this time countless children and parents feel the flutter of butterflies at the approaching first days of school. Parents scurry to outfit the kids with all the latest clothes and school supplies. Kids from pre-school to age 18 begin the mental transition from summer vacation to the regimented schedules of their school year routine.
While most children move into new school environments with relative ease and a little loving encouragement from their parents, some may experience heightened stress and anxiety connected with the return to school. Children with emotional and mental health needs have unique challenges to overcome in this regard. Thoughts of leaving parents, meeting new teachers, classmates, or attending a new school can cause a young mind to over think the possibilities. How can parents and teachers work to structure a successful supportive environment for the school-anxious child?
What Parents Can Do
You are the most important part of the parent/teacher equation in finding a workable solution for your child’s difficulties! You know your child on an intimate level. You understand how he reacts to his surroundings; what motivates him, and what holds him back. Keeping teachers, bus drivers, and Child Study Team members informed of past successful methods you have used to settle your child’s fears is an important part of sharing pertinent information.
As your child’s expert spokes-person and advocate, you must remind those working with your child outside the home about personality traits, and likes and dislikes your child has. Having others understand your child’s strengths and where, when, or how to step in and provide assistance are critical pieces of information. Sharing knowledge of certain fears, unusual behaviors and reactions, or phobias with all caregivers helps them prepare and implement their own helpful strategies and supports your family in the process.
Here are a few ideas to start you and your child on the right path:
- Recognize the authenticity of what your child is feeling
- Present a calm and positive outlook towards your child’s return to the classroom
- Allow her to express herself openly without minimizing her emotions
- Empathize with how she feels from her point of view
- Ask what ideas she might have to make the transition easier
- Ask what she needs you to do for her; how does she need you to help her through it
- Value and respect her ideas
- Work on a simple plan which will address issues and empower self-confidence
- Tell her she can come to you whenever help is needed
Successfully Collaborate with Teachers
Your child’s teacher plays a vital role in helping to ease your child back into the classroom. Merge your expertise on yor child with her expertise in education and training. Collaborate with teachers and aides to teach appropriate coping skills at home and in school to reinforce your child’s abilites. Effective steps to help your child can be achieved in a brief meeting or phone conversation. Below are a few things to keep in mind:
- Remember to respect the teachers valuable time in this busy season
- Make an appointment to meet a few days prior to the start of school
- Give the teacher the reason why you would like to meet so she can begin to think about possible solutions
- Come to the meeting with a brief explanation of your child’s fear, phobia or difficulty and how long your child has felt this way
- Ask the teacher how he might handle the situation and what suggestions he may have
- Be prepared to offer a few suggestions of your own
- Bring your child to meet his teacher in the empty classroom
- Have your child sit at his desk and tour the room
- Make arrangements for a quick school tour or walk through
- Discuss what the child can do when he feels overwhelmed in school so high stress does not result in poor behavior
- Ask the teacher to revisit the issue within a certain amount of time if what you have discussed together is not working for your child
When parents and related service providers work together the best interests of the child and family will be comprehensively addressed. This scenario is a win-win for all parties, but most especially the child. Approaching the issue as a team means strategizing and brainstorming all efforts in the best interests of the child.
This school year marks a new beginning for you and your child. Like grownups, kids sometimes experience excitement and apprehension, fear and uncertainty over new situations. Your steady support and reassurance will fuel self-confidence. Believe in your child and acknowledge her unique abilities. Work with teachers and other school personnel to find the right answers to your child’s equation. Set your child on a secure path to education success in the new school year.
Best of luck everyone!
If you are interested and like what you read here, contact Deborah for reprint options on these or other articles for your publications. Deborah is a freelance writer and currently contributes a monthly featured article to The Women of Gloucester County online magazine. Deborah is available to give workshops and course presentations at your location. Contact by phone at: 609-970-1100. Email: DeborahBeasley20@yahoo.com Other Website: www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com