Preparing them for new school term

Students of Bishop Howells Memorial Grammar School in a group photograph


One observation we made about the 2017 long schools’ vacation was that more children appeared to have spent the time with their parents, unlike the past when they had extra school activities for most of the period. We saw children who rode on BRT buses with their parents. We also took note of those who played quietly in office environments, especially where their mother were CEOs or in companies where children’s presence were tolerated. Great, we must applaud this new development for where else is a child’s place but on the side of her mother.

However, we must alert you on the apparent result of this development, which we believe to be borne out of the concern for security, especially. It is also possible that the high cost of living may have made it necessary to cut down on family expenditure like “summer camp” or “holiday lesson” as we have come to know them; it has been such a long time, therefore, that children have had such good times with parents especially mummy the great caregiver who had time to look closely at that scratch or cut; to tilt the head back and shout “open your mouth, please.”

But both mother and child know that this is one of the bonding period when mummy pretends to examine the teeth, but also looks into the eyes so that mother and child understand each other without exchanging many words.

As they go back to school this September, therefore, be aware that some may not do so willingly. Be prepared to lend a hand so that it would not pose too big a challenge for them, because the indulgence they had these several weeks is not the same thing as the work that school demands.

You should understand that they may feel a bit anxious because the new school term or year naturally must come with changes-starting school newly; moving to a new class and going from primary to secondary school could prove too much for some children. How can you help?
Show Excitement Yourself

Behave as if you are the one now going to school and can’t wait until the day of resumption. Say the best things about going to his new school or class. Talk about those things you know that will kindle his interest in his transition.

“When I was about to go to secondary school, I had a lot of fear about boarding schools; a popular girls high was directly opposite our home at the time. There was so much talk about lady koi koi, a female ghost who was said to walk on high heels on concrete in the middle of the night. Naturally I feared ‘lights out’ even before I sat for common entrance. I never went to a boarding school. But later I found that the same ghost practically haunted all the schools in my state. Lady Koi Koi was a figment of the imagination of secondary school students across our state.”

So why should your young one be afraid of the big change? If he confides his fears to you, put his mind at rest by reminding him that other children would not go there if such a bizarre thing were happening there. Kidnapping of children and other forms of insecurity that have been witnessed in schools in recent times is equally tough on you the parent, but assure him that you and other parents are going to do more to stop those who put fear into law-abiding citizens of this country. But assure them that you will find a school where bad people have no access to children. The truth is that we can no longer shield the children from the harsh realities of certain events around us, no matter how bad they are. Reassure them that bad things do not last for long and that they are always taken care of before they get worse.

If you discuss in earnest with them, they will ask questions which you must discuss fully with them. If the new school for example is not far, drive around for the child to see it before the resumption date. It would help to meet the teacher before the time too. If it is not possible, help them to create an image of it; the beautiful image helps them to cope. Talk about what their classroom might look like.

Just the other day, I overheard as a teacher was talking about transfers from private to public schools. It did not sound like a good prospect; to start child in a private school and then he goes to a public one where some, as we know them, are below expectations sometimes. Help the child to make that transition as smooth as possible. Talk of the reasons you are making that change so he understands fully. Even when your heart breaks at the poor infrastructure, keep that to yourself; do not cry in his presence, children soon learn to enjoy themselves in a new environment. The important thing is that he comes to a home full of love and where he can share his awesome experience at his new school in the slum.

When it becomes too much
They may refuse to tell you how they fear the change but you can learn to interpret them from their behaviour; the very young ones may become so confused that their worries give them headaches or they feel lethargic. The older children may be able to hide their real feelings; adolescent boys especially are good at this although they are known to fear change more than girls. Your boy may not want to speak about his new class for example, because he probably has some issues already with Class Teacher 2A, his new class teacher. Added to this is that, he is already battling with some physical and emotional changes with his transition from a child to semi-adult. A girl may cope better because she adapts more easily to new situations and is able to express herself better and make friends easily. Encourage children to make friends; studies have shown that children handle change better when they have at least one friend. If she is going to a new school where she knows nobody, help her to organise events where she can invite new people.

The older child can do with after school activities like sports and clubs, but encourage them to tell you what they want from their new school, tell them your own experiences at school, tell them how you used to be afraid and how you mastered your fears and are now a holder of multiple degrees and certificates.

In this article:
Ozo Mordi


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