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Back to school: Expecting the unexpected

06 Jan 2020

Stock image - Primary school children enjoying their art lessons

Stock image: Primary school children enjoying their art lessons.

Your child’s heading off to school and you’ve prepared them for every possibility. What could go wrong, right? Wrong, says Neo Wen Tong, a mother of two, as she shares her tips for handling unexpected situations.

The excitement of the first two days of school is over and lessons will be on in full swing. It’s finally time to breathe a little easier, and let your child ease themselves into the pace of school again. You’ve been prepping them for a week before school started so it’ll be a breeze for them to settle right in, right?

The truth is, despite your best effort, some unexpected situations may still crop up. Your child may forget to bring something (water bottle, lunchbox, wallet, book, etc.) to school, not want to get up in the morning, come home with the sniffles or a cough, miss the school bus, and find lessons hard to understand… The list can go on.

These situations can be frustrating, for both parents and children. Here are a few tips on how you can handle these situations.

“I forgot to bring…”

Okay, so this may not be completely unexpected. But instead of going straight to your child’s rescue, coach them to solve the problem on their own or approach an adult in school for help instead. If they forgot their water bottle, the water cooler in school could tide them over. If they forgot their lunchbox or had no money for recess, they could ask a teacher for help. Sometimes, they learn best through making mistakes and sorting out their own problems.

“I don’t want to get up.”

You have already enforced an earlier bedtime, and prepped your child’s schoolbag, snack, and uniform with them the night before. But in the morning, the struggle to get up on time is still very real. After more than a month of sleeping in, it is understandable. Instead of using a beeping alarm clock, try playing some upbeat music that your child enjoys and turning on some lights in the house so it is no longer dark. If all else fails, try (gently) wiping your child’s face with a damp washcloth. These tips could also work on a spouse.

Sniffles and coughs

New school year, new classmates, and new round of viruses? To help prevent your child falling sick right at the start of the school year, keep their immune system strong. Make sure they have enough Vitamin C, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, and sleep enough every day. No harm in applying the same routine to everyone in the family too!

“I missed the school bus!”

Missing the school bus home could be a scary experience, especially for those new to primary school. If you receive such a call from your child, do your best to not panic (we know it is not easy). Make sure that they are with a teacher or another adult in school while you make alternative arrangements for pick-up. Later, when you see them at home, revisit the incident and let them know that you are proud of them for being able to handle the situation, and discuss how to avoid it in future.

“I don’t know what the teacher is teaching.”

Tempting as it may be to unleash your inner tiger-mum (or dad), take a breath (or several) and have a chat with your child on why they are feeling this way. They are learning more, and more quickly than they might be used to. Let them know that you are there to listen and help. Support comes in many forms. Set small achievable goals to help them understand their work. Give lots of hugs. Help them to build their confidence and a healthy self-esteem and it will work wonders!