Now that we’re into the new school year, are there any issues unsettling your child?
They Don’t Want to Get Up and Get Ready
Is the new term making your usually reluctant-for-bed-goer more tired than usual so that they’re falling asleep earlier? Or perhaps they’re waking up in no mood to get up.
Challenging your child calmly rather than ordering them to get going is more likely to result in them opening up to you. Try asking “what do you think you’ll miss out on?” or “what do you think will happen if you don’t give it a try?” That way you’re encouraging them to consider making a positive decision and taking responsibility for their day.
Younger children might respond with a “don’t know”, in which case you could try asking them to think about it – treat it as problem-solving if it helps. Tweens may try the “don’t care”, in which case you should consider stepping aside to let them face the consequences of not getting ready. Could you offer a compromise as an incentive, such as allowing reading at the breakfast table as a way to offset the loss of reading in bed? Worried about them not eating anything? Stick on an audiobook or podcast so that their mind is occupied and then they’ll feel more inclined to eat.
You could also give an older child time to prepare, by buying an alarm clock that simulates natural sunrise.
…Or They Get Up Fearing a Detention
Your late riser is suddenly out of bed earlier than you ever dreamed of! Unfortunately, the deep sensitivities of children with high learning potential can mean that they really are worried about the new rules. Chat about how it’s healthy to respect that a school needs rules and that detention is a deterrent, but acknowledge the anxiety. Remind them that you’re on their side and will do what you can to ensure that they have plenty of time. You could also explain that teachers don’t want to terrify their pupils, they just want them to be punctual. Your child might feel less apprehensive about the connotations of the word “detention” if you explain that it exists to encourage responsibility, rather than just being a punishment.
They Dislike the Earlier Bedtime Routines
Maybe there are shouting matches at bedtime, because your child thinks earlier bedtimes are unfair? How about suggesting you’d be happy to move their bedtime slightly later during the weekend if they’ve shown you that they’ll get up at the new time from Monday to Friday? If they don’t co-operate, you could then explain that the later bedtime is a privilege to be earned, only if they can work out how to get themselves up on time.
The Teacher Says They’re Messing About
Bored or resentful of the rules? Remember that your child with the high IQ is still a child, with asynchronous behaviour possibly influencing it. Apart from the standard reasons, your child might be distracted because they are learning information far quicker than their peers. If the right level of challenge isn’t being offered, keep politely advocating for them. See advice sheet PA315: Meeting With the School.
And if they already know the topic? As a short-term measure show sympathy with your child rather than venting your frustration about the teachers. As high potential learners go into subjects more profoundly, could they do extra research on the topic learnt in class and then relate it to something they’re fascinated by? It will make the homework less tedious and is also good practice in independent study skills.
They Miss Being Homeschooled
Having been out of the school system for a while, they’re now back in it. Remind them that you’re proud they chose the new pathway; a step that for some is hard.
If they’ve entered in Year 7, you could remind your child that most of the pupils are finding their feet. Primary school had a quite different set of expectations than secondary does.
How many clubs are on offer that they’ve yet to try? See if you can gauge a level of excitement about the opportunities to come. Ask the school which ones are likely to appear.
Quick Esteem-Boosting Tips
Praise accomplishment of tasks often taken for granted: packing the correct sports equipment or remembering the location of each classroom. For details on how to say it, see advice sheet PA608: Helping HLP Children Deal with Emotional Problems.
Ease off the packed weekend with some chill-out time: there’s nothing wrong with more reading in bed if it improves their mood!
Focus on the “outside school” and what your child is accomplishing. For example, are they better at riding their bike? Get them outdoors and explore a new cycle path. Try education which doesn’t involve pressure: making a new meal, learning about types of plants on a walk, or watching The Planets on iPlayer.
Talk about those past times in school that were successful. What did your child do to ensure those happened?
Are they begging to join an after-school club? if you’re not sure that they’re ready for it, meet halfway by agreeing to short periods in the school library, ICT suite or afterschool common room time.
Focus on building closeness, the right kind of independence and trust with your child to help them to start to smooth out the term!