There’s no question that sending the kids off to school for the first time each year is an experience full of mixed emotions.
As soon as we put our children onto the bus, or walk them through the school door, it never fails. We seem to morph into a mum with multiple personalities.
You know exactly what I mean, experiencing thoughts like…..
I’m so sad my baby is growing up. I’m so happy my baby is growing up!
I’m so sad I’m not with him. I’m so relieved I have a few hours alone.
I can’t wait until he gets home. Can’t he stay just a little longer?
While we may feel a host of conflicting emotions, there’s one emotion that seems to plague even the most experienced of school mums. Fear.
Fear is a common response to the unknown. We send our children off into the care of others that we really may not know much about. For the first time in awhile, we aren’t sure exactly how they’re spending their day or who they’re spending it with. We aren’t sure how the teacher will respond if our child cries, gets into a fight or realises he forgot his lunch. All we do know, for sure, is that mum isn’t there to make sure everything is alright.
While we can’t be there in person to be sure are children are safe and well cared for, we can empower our children to be conscious of their safety and to express themselves in a way so that their needs are met.
As you start off the school year, incorporate these 10 safety tips into your Back to School Regime.
- Be sure your child knows his and your contact information. He should have his full name and address, your full name and the best number to reach you at memorized.
- Avoid labelling your child’s clothing, backpack or jackets with his name where it is visible. You don’t want a stranger to be able to call out your child by name, so be sure his name isn’t anywhere visible on his clothing or school bag.
- Ask your child open ended questions. Make asking your child questions about how his day went a part of your afterschool routine. If anything concerns you, bring it up with his teacher. Teach your child that it’s okay for him to talk to you and his teacher about his needs or concerns.
- Be familiar with how your child’s school handles emergencies. Be sure to educate yourself about the policies and procedures regarding school lock downs and other emergencies. Let your child know who is listed on his emergency contact form.
- Be a presence. Get involved in your child’s school. Join the PTA or volunteer to be a room mother. Let your presence declare that you have a serious interest in your child’s school year success.
- Provide ways for your child to make friends. Get your child involved with something that interests him, encourage play dates and foster friendships. Being involved in a peer group can help your child feel positive about his school experience.
- If your child walks or rides the bus to school, talk specifically about safety rules and have a set check-in time for him to call you when he gets home from school.
- Role play. Engage in situational role plays that can help your child learn to navigate different situations that may come up. For example, it could be helpful to role play with your 2nd grader how to handle a situation where he lost his lunch money. Role play possible ways of handling the situation, like by telling the teacher or the cafeteria worker or by asking to call home.
- Consider providing your child with a preprogrammed mobile phone. There are several mobile phones on the market that allow a set number of contacts to be programmed into the phone. Consider giving your child a phone so that he can reach you should the need arise.
- Pay attention. Pay attention to changes in your child’s eating habits, sleeping habits and personality. If you notice your child seems withdrawn or isn’t sleeping well, inquire as to why. A change in behaviour may signal that something is wrong.
Our children will look to us for reassurance about school. If we appear worried, we won’t do our children any good. While a cautious parent is a good parent, a wise parent will take great care to monitor the message they are sending to their child.