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The Southern Cross : February 2012
Page 18 February 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au Think back to your first days at school or high school. Were you excited, fearful, anxious or a mixture of all these emotions? It's hard to imagine meeting these milestones with total equanimity and your child or young person will probably have some level of anxiety. Children often respond to stress and anxiety in a physiological manner - complaints about tiredness, headaches, tummy aches and tension are common. Our task as parents is to help our children and young people through school transition times by using these challenges as opportunities to build resilience. Possible problem stages Some children encounter stressful situations at the beginning of their education. Children often experience difficulty in transitioning from half days at kindy to full days at school and the more rigid structure and routines in reception can be exhausting for children. You might find your child returns home feeling cross, tired and unco-operative. As one child said, "it's hard to be good all day". This may explain why many parents struggle with their school's image of their "perfect" child and their own experience of a demanding, whiney despot who waits to get home to let it all hang out! The transition from Year 7 into Year 8 signals another tricky time for parents of young people who are also beginning their journey into adolescence. Body image issues can emerge as our young people will be mixing with other fellow students who are almost adults. Some young teens find leaving the "top of the pile" in primary school to the lower pecking order of Year 8 an extremely uncomfortable experience. Year 8s have different classrooms, different teachers, bigger class sizes and less individual attention than they had in primary school. All this is happening at the same time as they are tackling the important task of independent learning. Year 8s tell us that they have felt lost and confused, lonely until new friendship networks are built or worried that they might not be able to cope with new demands. Interestingly they also say they worry they might not live up to parental expectations. You might notice that your young person is more irritable or short tempered, quiet and withdrawn, doing silly things or complaining of physical pains or even refusing to attend school. What can parents do? • Tell your child you love them -- frequently and in no uncertain terms • Offer them affection and support • Reassure them that it is normal to feel unsure and remind them that other people feel like this. Share your memories of "firsts" • Create very permeable barriers between school and home - welcome new friends and encourage them to keep up with old friends too • Be a positive listener and try not to be too quick with advice. Initiating conversations with your child or young person around school anxiety can be difficult, but some good conversation starters can be open questions such as "how are you feeling about starting school?", "are you thinking about what school might be like this year?",... followed up with -- "it can help to talk about it". Emotion coaching your child or young person is important to enable feelings to be named and explored. This may mean making an observation such as "you look like you feel worried/sad/angry/upset. Is that right?" If the answer is yes, then you can follow that up with a question about what the worry/sadness/anger is about. It's important then to acknowledge these worries by saying something like "I can see why you feel that way" but follow that up with some ideas around resolving them by saying "have you got any ideas about what you could do to manage those feelings...let me know if you need help coming up with a plan". Developing self understanding in your child or young person can help them to think about the underlying cause of their anxiety and then develop the ability to respond to what is going on. Sometimes talking about expected feelings can help so asking if they expect to feel nervous/worried when they start or return to school can be followed up with "How do you think you'll manage that?" and then "if you do start feeling worried, what is something you can do to make yourself feel better?" Your goal as a parent is to help your children put together the puzzle that is feelings and past experiences and develop skills to give them some control over them which in turn will lower their anxiety. If you are worried about your child or young person, Centacare has counselling and parenting services to help. Centacare also develops and delivers courses targeted at transition times for parents of children and young people. To find out more contact Centacare on 8210 8200 or visit our website www.centacare.org.au. -- Prepared by the education team at Centacare Catholic Family Services. Open for business School open days are a great chance for parents and students to better understand the services and facilities offered beyond the words and figures of a school prospectus. It's also a good opportunity for the school to showcase special aspects of school life, says Josephine O'Grady, marketing and publications co-ordinator for the Nazareth Catholic Community. "By inviting people into the school you develop an awareness of the unique educational qualities and facilities, and can convince them that your school is the right choice for their child," she says. "Open day is a significant date for the school calendar, and is an essential marketing strategy for all schools, especially in such a competitive educational market." Open days this semester include; • Rostrevor College: middle and senior school, March 18, 1-4pm and junior school, March 23, 5-6.30pm (www.rostrevor.sa.edu.au). • Nazareth Catholic Community: primary campus, March 21, 9-11am; early childhood centre, March 24, 9.30-11.30am; secondary campus, March 28, 4-7pm (ph: 8406 5000 or www.nazareth.org.au). • Marymount College: March 8, 9am (www.mc.catholic.edu.au) • Blackfriars Priory School: Tuesday March 6, 5.30-7.30pm (www.bps. sa.edu.au) • Mercedes College: Orientation Walk (to register visit www.mercedes. catholic.edu.au) • Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College: March 4, 1-3pm (www.olsh. sa.edu.au) • Mary MacKillop College: March 4, 1-3pm (www.marymackillop.sa.edu. au) • St Patrick's Technical College: March 25 (www.stpatstech.sa.edu. au) • St Aloysius College: February 27 (www.sac.sa.edu.au) Join the Principal on a School Tour You are invited to join Mrs Mary Camilleri on a learning walk around Marymount College, a Middle School for Girls Years 6 -- 9, Hove. Meet the students and teachers, see classes in action, ask questions and discuss your enrolment. Enrolling Now for o gNo o 2013 & 2014 We look forward to sharing our unique place of belonging with you. Please contact the Registrar on 8298 2388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . to register for the tour www.mc.catholic.edu.au MARYMOUNT COLLEGE | COLTON AVE | HOVE MARYMOUNT COLLEGE Anxious moments Back to school feature