Less than a week left of the summer holidays and as ever there’s mixed emotions about going back to school and getting back into the routine of life. The summer is a strange time I think, everyone seems to slow down and be so much more laid back but there can be negative sides to that too. Certainly for adopted children and their families it can be a stressful time as well as a time to build more on our relationships. As I’ve gone through life (I sound so old now) I’ve noticed that in EVERYTHING there is a good and bad – a negative and a positive – and I think that’s how it should be. If you’re a glass half full person you probably always try and see the good but there is bad there too and vice versa.
So for our children the prospect of going back to the routine and certainty of school may be good. However for those changing schools or teachers it can also be unsettling and full of anxiety. For my three children there’a a mix of emotions there – for the youngest going back to his primary school there’s excitement and comfort in knowing his friends will be there, he knows what to expect – there may be a little anxiety as to what a new year will bring, especially as his brother leaves for high school so he’s the only one left in the school.
For fruit bat number 2 though it’s all change. From being the big fish (although he’s very small) at primary to now the tiny, weeny, little fish in a much bigger pond at high school there is much to be concerned about. To be honest I’m worried about it too! Will he make friends? Will he be able to cope with the work? Will the teachers understand him and be able to help him? Will he be able to adjust to the huge change in expectations and responsibilities? All unknown and for me it’s bad enough to think about all those things but for him, a child who hasn’t had the nurture he needed early in his life, these uncertainties are huge.
And for fruit bat number 1 going into year 8 – having barely survived year 7 will she be able to adjust to the change again? She seems calmer about going back but there will be more expectations of her ‘at her age’ which of course emotionally is not her age. Will she be able to cope with the increased work and the surge of hormones?!
As I write this I’m aware that these may be common concerns for ALL parents but I know for ours there’s more to consider. Not only the difficulties that growing up brings but also the lack of attachment and trust in adults makes their foundation shaky to say the least. This time of adolescence is supposed to be the time when children pull back from their parents, from the people who have protected and nurtured them – to be able to find some independence and a sense of who they are – apart from their parents. For our children they are pulling away from something that was never really sure and secure for them – as we’ve had our children for 5 years now – in some ways they are like 5 year olds and you wouldn’t expect a 5 year old to be able to pull away and be totally independent!
So what can we hold onto during this transition time from summer to school? Well, we know there are always good and bad elements in everything so whilst the questions may be there, we can also find the positives – there will be times when our children rise to the challenge – when they grow and progress and surprise us with how well they do. In the not so good times we can hold onto the fact that this too will pass – that the summer will come again – quicker then we think. Also for me though I want to focus on making sure there are times of connecting with them every day – that before and after school there are times when they are allowed to be themselves – no expectations – when they can be the age they want to be and need to be sometimes. In order to help that, one of the things we put into place last year with fruit bat number 1 and we will do with number 2 now too – is that they do all their homework at school, before and/or after in homework club so that when they come home they can relax and have fun at home. Also as they need more help with their work, doing homework where there are people who can help them elevates the stress and battles at home. A strategy I would highly recommend to others making the transition!
For those of you that work in schools or who would like your children’s school to understand your children more check out our workshops on Attachment & Trauma in schools. There are workshops all over the country and onsite training is available also. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.