How to Help Your Child Adjust to Primary School

How to Help Your Child Adjust to Primary School

Young children are increasingly being exposed to performance pressure due to the academic demands of primary school, especially the national exams for maths and English. Incidences of stress, anxiety, and panic attacks showed an increase of 78% in primary schools over a period of two years. Cases of depression have risen to 55% and the fear of academic failure to 76%, an alarming trend when we consider that primary school students are still only children. What can parents do to help their children adjust to the expectations that education demands?

Self-Advocacy

One of the critical skills a child needs to learn early in life is self-advocacy. This is the ability to communicate their needs. Children should not feel alone, overwhelmed, and unable to obtain relief. Such a state quickly leads to depression, fear, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness. This competency has been shown to help people of all ages, even very young, to cope with the pressures of modern life.

The three steps of self-advocacy are understanding your own needs, knowing what assistance is needed, and being able to ask for it. Teach your child this skill by communicating with them about what they struggle with and their strengths and weaknesses. Get them to tell you what solutions they think will help. Encourage them to speak up and create an environment in which it is easy to do so.

Managing Expectations

Much is expected of children nowadays. The resources we provide must be equal to these demands. This includes teaching them skills such as independence, problem-solving, and adaptability. It also requires them to know when they need to step back and take stock before proceeding, to avoid them feeling overloaded and frustrated. Being organised will help students to focus and complete their work.

We should provide learning tools that are integrated with school requirements. For example, if they are studying online, make sure that they have robust technological access to lessons and all the listed learning material. They should also know which tasks must be done and where to find information.

Yet we should not see high expectations as necessarily negative. They promote resilience, learning, and confidence. However, when the result is stress, we are pushing too hard or not giving them the skills to navigate these expectations. Start by understanding the expectations children have of themselves. Are they realistic and healthy or are they too stringent, not allowing any room for error? Help students to align their personal expectations with those of their schools and to see the value in what they are doing.

children at school

Handling Stress In Primary School Students

We must be able to identify the signs of stress in our children. There are some clear signs of stress that parents should look out for and address, especially when it comes to tests and exams. Recognise that stress is a normal response to a challenging situation. Help your child to break down all the factors that are causing this and deal with each one. For example, do they have all the tools they need? Do they know what they have to do? Are they afraid of an upcoming test? How is their social life? Is anything else bothering them? By putting things in perspective and separating them into smaller issues, your child will feel more in control. Attend to the basics such as sufficient sleep, nutritious meals, fresh air, and exercise. The latter produces endorphins and other feel-good hormones which will reduce stress levels.

Don’t leave your child alone to cope with stress. Over time, you can teach them ways to help themselves, but they still need you to step in when the going gets rough. The world is a big place, and we want to guide our children to navigate it successfully and ask for help when they need it.

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