With reports indicating increasingly alarming trends of academic stress for children in Singapore – not just in local schools but in international ones too – here are 10 practical ways to help your child rise above the school strains.
Children get extremely stressed out when they realise they’ve forgotten a textbook, or worse, brought their Chinese supplies for Science class.
Avoid these errors by asking the teacher for a list of books, technology, and supplies needed for the rest of the year, and making sure you have them all ready before the school year starts.
If you can, make copies of your child’s timetable as well, then stick one in their study room and another for yourself as an extra reminder.
When your kid consistently shows signs of resistance to school, such as clamming up when you mention a particular teacher, or sobbing at the mention of class activity, it could signal graver matters than expected.
One parent shares how her four-year-old refused to go to school, kicking and crying before lessons, and was all silent when she gets picked up at the end of the day. Turned out her class teacher had physically punished the child, igniting fear.
Thankfully, warning bells were spotted early and the kid is now happily planted in another school.
As numerous studies will tell you, stress is capable of producing physical pains like stomach upsets, headaches, and insomnia.
If you spot these symptoms in your child, take care to identify the root of the problem, instead of immediately dispensing medicines or a trip to the doctor.
And we don’t mean the iPad or the xBox console.
Instead of filling up every single hour of your child’s free time, create a pocket where they get to play out at the playground or even take them out for a quick drive to the park.
It’s possible to unwind in the house too. Set up a beanbag or hammock chair, create a cosy corner they can escape to, or simply bond over a simple board game that taps on their imagination, such as Taboo or Articulate.
If the kids often went to bed later than usual during the long school break, chances are, their body clocks will need time to adjust back to awaking at 6am again.
Help them ease into the momentum by creating a routine for their homework, play, dinner, and bedtime. Ensure they stay off afternoon naps – the worst way they could possibly mess up their sleep patterns even more. Enforcement is key.
It can get rather overwhelming when the school work, outside classes, and extracurricular activities pile up all at once.
Kids may not yet have the ability to manage priorities, so help by asking them to estimate how much time homework assignments should take, etc.
Once that’s all sorted, create a to-do list and plan accordingly. Having boxes at the side to tick off once something is done will give the child a sense of satisfaction too.
Give the modern child a gadget and there’s a good chance they’ll be able to keep themselves entertained for hours on end.
Now that school has started, establish a ground rule on how much gadget and screen time they are allowed daily.
On your part, be sure to stay off the phone and emails too whenever you are together as a family, whether over dinner or relaxing before the television.
Just like how you’d love someone to hear about that annoying client who absolutely messed up your plans, or the colleague who just doesn’t seem to stop overstepping her boundaries, your child would love to have a listening ear at the end of a long school day too.
Take the time to listen and connect, and make sure to give your full attention instead of multi-tasking.
Plant a timer in your child’s room to help them focus on their to-do list, making sure to reward them later on with some time to relax and recharge before going back to work.
Or, every time you sense a “storm” coming, turn the timer and give them exactly one minute to whine. After that, it’s back to the task at hand.
NEXT: Offer power in wise portions →
Kids are less prone to complaining and defying if they are given some sort of control over their work and activities.
To work their attention to your favour, simply offer them choices where all outcomes are acceptable to you, no matter what they pick.
NEXT: Sort out the school supplies →
By Natalie Joy Lee, Singapore Women’s Weekly, June 2016
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