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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Back to school Itis

“Back to school itis”… definitely exists all of us experience this, it is really a form of stress. Children and adults alike handle transitions differently from each other and many do just fine but the start of a new school year, term or even half term is a transition where expectations and work increase. Some of the symptoms of back to school itis are:
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Stomach pains
  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression
So firstly how do we the adults/teachers manage and combat these feelings? Academy Award winning actor Judi Dench said in an interview that she leaves her handbag near a doorway of any building she is in as an assurance that she can walk out at will.

But we are adults and have learned to deal with the feelings of panic in our own way, performing little mind tricks to help us cope. I have recently started Meridian Tapping  it is called tapping because you literally tap on endpoints of meridians on your body, while focusing on what’s stressing you. It’s a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Latest research is showing that when we tap on these endpoints on the meridians, while focusing on the stressors in our lives, it sends a calming effect to the fight/flight part of our brain—the amygdala. So we’re retraining the brain to react differently to that stimulus of whatever is bothering us.

For a child, it is more difficult to first rationalise, and then make accommodations for their fears. Fear is fear. So what can we do to help our pupils? 

Ask parents to ensure they have looked after the basics.
Nobody copes well when they are tired or hungry. Anxious children often forget to eat, don’t feel
hungry, and don’t get enough sleep.

Avoid giving reassurance... instead, problem-solve and plan! Children often seek
reassurance that bad things won’t happen in order to reduce their worry. Do not assure them with
“Don’t worry!” or “Everything will be fine!” Instead, encourage your pupils to think of ways to solve their problems. For example if they are worried about friendship groups allow time for a 5 minute chat with their friends during registration so that they can share things they have done over the holidays.

Focus on the positive aspects! - Encourage your pupils to re-direct attention away from the
worries, and towards the positives. Ask them to name three things that they are most
excited about on your first day of school. Most kids can think of something good, even if it's just
eating a special snack or going home at the end of the day. Chances are that the fun aspects are
simply getting overlooked by repetitive worries.

Keep them in the loop - After their catch up tell your class what they will be doing that day. I often find this relaxes them straight away because their is usually at least one thing that they will enjoy.

Have Fun - Most of my children have been fine but one or two had 'mystery' tummy aches yesterday and today so I decided to begin the day with a song, well it bagan as a song and quickly turned into as full blown song and dance! The song of choice was Pharell Willaims 'Happy'

Hopefully tomorrow is another day and most of the school itis will be miraculously cured. Well for the children at least!