Message from the Chaplain

Hi All,

It's school time again! You're probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer holidays are over. Some students feel nervous or a little scared on the first day because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these 'new' worries only stick around for a little while.

I want to encourage all of us parents to remain positive. Hopefully the advice below will help us all…..

A parent’s attitude has a strong influence on how children view the beginning of school, says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a clinical psychologist and coauthor of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential. Children pick up on their parents’ feelings, react to them, and often magnify them. “You have to have faith that they’ll be able to get through [changes], even if it’s hard. It’s a powerful message to give kids,” she says. “We don’t want to dismiss their feelings, but we do want to normalize them and say ‘Everyone feels a little nervous going into the classroom, but I really think you’re going to be fine.’”

Kennedy-Moore has asked her own four children a question at back-to-school time: “Somewhere in your class is a child who is waiting to be your friend. How will you figure out who that is?” This sets a positive expectation about the school year, and it helps children notice and be ready to respond to friendly overtures.

Emphasize to your children that anxiety doesn’t have to be a stop signal, she says. “It’s really just our body getting us pumped so we’re ready to handle a new or challenging situation.”

Because attitude matters, if you’re excited for school to start, your children will follow your lead. Having an annual ritual can help ring in the new school year and can be a treasured tradition for years to come.

Spending time just 'hanging out' with your children around the start of the school year helps with transition. A parent’s simple presence is comforting and soothing to children and gives them the opportunity to talk if they want to, says Kennedy-Moore.

Once school really gets going, of course we want to hear all about it, but it’s important to follow your child’s lead. Some children are chatty and want to discuss every detail. Others will feel overwhelmed with too many questions. They may need to relax first and talk later, or they may only tell you about bits and pieces of their day. Either way, it’s fine, Kennedy-Moore says. “If your child seems calm and reasonably happy, you can assume the start of the school is going well,” she says. “One of the most precious gifts we can give our children is our confidence that they will find their way.”

It's going to be a wonderful school year!

Please give me a call or come and see me if you need to talk through any issues that may be of a concern to you personally or your family.

Gary Crole
Bellarine Campus Chaplain


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