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Putting a plan in place to survive term 1 of big school is really important. This is even more important if your child hasn’t been going to pre-school or day care in the years leading up to school. Even if they have been, its a really big jump from 2 or 3 days at pre-school to 5 days a week at school.
Here are my top tips for surviving Term 1 with a child with hypermobility
1. Plan ahead
Have answers to the questions raised in the last post “Getting ready for big school“. Make a time to meet with your child’s teacher ASAP to discuss your concerns and educate them about hypermobility if necessary (go armed with your copy of My Bendy Body for them to read). It’s also important to talk to the principal & other school staff about your child’s needs well in advance (I’m hoping at this point in time you have already done that, but if you haven’t, get in early, like day 1 early).
2. Don’t over-schedule
So many families book their kids into lots of after school or extra-curricular activities to give them a well rounded education. I agree, some extra-curricular activities will be good… but not in first term. First term will be a HUGE adjustment physically and emotionally for your child. Don’t add the extra activities until they have mastered the day to day going to school & being away from home for so many hours each day.
3. Don’t plan anything for weekends
It’s probably advisable that you don’t plan much for weekends, especially the first 3-4 weekends, during Term 1, because your little button is going to be smashed come Friday afternoon (if they even make it that far before crashing). The last thing your little one needs it to have to get up early on Saturday mornings and go to sport, or be dragged from engagement to engagement over the weekend. They’re probably going to need a sleep-in, some pyjama time (see Pyjama Day post) and some quiet time activities.
4. Expect ’not so great’ behaviour
I’m not talking violent, criminal, personality-change kind of behaviour, but you are going to have a very tired little person on your hands. They are going to be more emotionally reactive because they are tired, which usually ends in more tantrums, more tears, more fighting amongst siblings and generally just a lower tolerance for not getting what they want. I guess what I’m saying is give them a little bit of leeway while they navigate all the changes that are happening in their little lives whilst keeping to your family rules & values.
5. Talk about school each afternoon/evening (debriefing)
This one is helpful for any child, but especially for a child who has a few extra needs &/or a bit of anxiety. What was the best thing that happened at school today? What was the hardest thing that happened at school today? What can you look forward to tomorrow? You can obviously ask other questions too, but it’s good to start asking from the beginning so that your child knows they can talk to you about what is happening at school and how they are feeling about things.
6. Manage your expectations Know that it’s going to be a challenging roller coaster ride for the first term of big school… but know that it gets better. If you find Term 2 hard as well, that’s not unusual…. however make sure you are using all the supports that are available to you through your school, your community and your doctors/treating team.
7. Enjoy the freedom that sending a child to school for 6 hours a day might bring you!
(If you have other kids at home still…. at least there is one less to entertain right??).