It’s back to school for thousands of Kiwi kids in just over a week, but no need to pack the tissues with these top tips for getting little ones excited about returning to the classroom.

A smooth start to the new school year is all about preparation, involvement and good role modelling, family therapist Agnes Sigley told the Herald on Sunday.

“[Going back to school] is a change in rhythm and can make them anxious. They’re going from a familiar world to the public world … it can be quite overwhelming.”

A good opener was to start a conversation about what the child likes best about school, such as seeing their friends or favourite teachers, or learning their favourite subjects, so the child has something to look forward to.

Parents could be good role models by talking about what they were looking forward to about going back to work, Sigley said.

The conversation could also include things the parents might be concerned about, to encourage the child to share their own worries.

“Sometimes children have trouble talking about their own feelings, so if you talk about your feelings [it can help them] … the key is talking, or doing some drawing if they don’t want to talk about it.”

Involving children in the preparation for returning to school was another way to help with the transition.

This could include involving the child in choosing and making the first lunches and, if there’s no uniform, choosing the clothes they want to wear. Play dates with school friends before the big day was another option to ease any pre-first day jitters.

Sigley suggested starting the conversations about school a week out, and making sure the night before and the first morning of school were not rushed.

The Warehouse, which has paired with the Herald on Sunday to offer one lucky student and their peers a classroom full of sports equipment, also offered suggestions for helping kids make the switch back to the books.

• Let kids choose fun stationery, such as those branded with favourite movies, and set up a snazzy new homework space for them.

• Signing kids up for extracurricular activities they enjoyed could also help, giving them a way to meet friends with similar interests.

NZ Herald

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