How to help your kids have a great start to the school year
QUEENSLAND families are being urged to seek help for stressed schoolkids as a record number of children flood through the state's school gates today.
Kids Helpline has revealed it had more than 1000 phone calls from stressed-out schoolkids in 2019 and has warned of a spike in anxiety in children at the start of the school year.
It comes as 578,000 children are enrolled in 1249 state schools this year, and 278,000 are attending non-state schools.
"This is the highest ever overall enrolment count that we have seen in Queensland," Education Minister Grace Grace said.
Kids Helpline has released some back-to-school tips, including taking the time to plan the day to avoid the early morning rush, setting a daily routine and packing a healthy lunch.
"In Queensland during 2019, we had 1091 calls from children relating to school-related concerns, including for bullying, study-related concerns and authority-related concerns," a spokeswoman said.
"Starting a new school is a topic on the Kids Helpline website, and that had 9713 page views with definite spikes in late January early February and also August."
Brookfield mother Cassandra Springer said most parents go through some level of anxiety thinking of their child going back to school.
"Even about having a new teacher and new children in the classroom, so we support our kids as much as we can. I try not to project my anxieties onto Emilie. I make sure I support her and talk about how much fun school is and seeing friends," she said.
While Emilie is thrilled to head back to Brookfield State School today, her mother said there were naturally some first-day nerves.
"We do juggle the drop off at the school, attending all the sporting events, there is stress and a lot going on in the school curriculum now," Ms Springer said.
"There is a lot more pressure, children in Prep, Year 1 and 2 are learning so much more than when I went to school, so they do feel a bit of stress."
"If I do see that in my daughter, we'll do something else like go for a swim or sit and read."
Tracy Adam, chief executive officer of Yourtown, which operates Kids Helpline, said school was an exciting time for children but such milestones could cause anxiety.
"Children will be confronted with new challenges and uncertainties. It's important that parents
listen to their children's concerns and praise them for facing fears and trying new activities," she said.
Kids Helpline is expecting calls to increase when kids return to school and the issues are often directly about anxiety and family relationships.
"We will see an increase in requests for counselling support as young people return to school and over time we continue to see an increase in young people seeking help from Kids Helpline counsellors," a Kids Helpline counsellor said.
"There will be an increase in young people seeking self-help materials from our website as young people return to school. Our website also has direct links that offer professional counsellors 24/7 for any young person seeking help.
"We also will see an increase in requests for Kids Helpline @ School which are free, early intervention sessions for primary schools in Queensland, as these sessions promote mental health literacy and help young people develop greater resilience."
Ms Grace said more than 53,000 state teachers were ready for the new school year, including 1000 additional teachers.
"Of these, 800 are brand new teachers starting their careers in Queensland classrooms," Ms Grace said.
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
TIPS FOR GETTING OFF TO A GREAT START TO THE SCHOOL YEAR
1. Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. If you are excited and confident, your child
will be also.
2. Prepare yourself and your child ahead of time - talk with your child about starting school.
3. Plan the first day the night before to avoid the early morning rush and any unnecessary
stress, ensuring a calm and confident start to school.
4. If possible, visit the new school with your child and on the first day walk the little ones all the way into the classroom.
5. Start daily routines that will add continuity to make sure your child feels comfortable, for
example be familiar with the school uniform, rehearse the day and pack their favourite
snacks and fruit for lunch. Don't forget a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
6. If your child has any special needs discuss this in advance with the teacher.
7. Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day, for chatting and commuting together.
8. After school, greet your child and spend time with them.