First, talk to you child to determine if there are strong fears and anxieties. Sometimes, our children talk themselves into a level of stress out of proportion to the difficulties they will face. These concerns can spring from many sources but are often tied to perfectionism, hypersensitivity, insecurity, social problems, fear of failure, or fear of the unknown.
Even though we understand the child’s concerns may seem minimal to an adult mind, we cannot simply tell our children that their concerns are unfounded. If your child is feeling resistant to school for any of the reasons discussed, start by first acknowledging her concern. It is important to build a child’s confidence that she can overcome problems through her own resilience and hard work, though it may be necessary to draw on support from others from time to time. She needs to be assured that the support needed to overcome
obstacles will be there when she seeks it. Remind her that even though help is available, she must also draw on her own skills and strength when faced with a challenge. Gently challenge her irrational beliefs and strive to replace them with realistic and positive beliefs. The best way to help a child reduce the stress she feels is to calmly negotiate a strategy with her for overcoming perceived obstacles.
At a level appropriate to your child’s age, discuss a plan for becoming more capable of managing his concerns. After all, if we truly want our kids to become resilient, capable, and caring adults, then learning
better skills for self-management is as much a part of his education as learning academic skills.
Talk to your child about goals. Do not frame goals in terms of grades but in terms of skills to be acquired. These can be broad goals at present—becoming a more effective writer, establishing a good organizational
system, developing more proficiency in mathematics, or studying more effectively. As the school year progresses these goals should become more defined. Ongoing discussions about skill development throughout the school year can help your child recognize the value of working hard to accomplish goals.
More than anything else, education is an opportunity that opens doors both practical and personally gratifying. When seized, it can broaden interests, add depth to understanding, and enrich how the world is experienced. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to discuss the value of an education.
If you would like a more detailed set of ideas for preparing your child’s attitude and motivation for school you can use the motivation planning tool on our website and apply it specifically to starting school. You can
find this tool at: http://blogtopractice.weebly.com/motivation-planning-tool.html.
We hope that each of your children has a happy, productive, and academically challenging school year.