Going back to school this week brings with it many emotions: excitement, uncertainty, fear and joy – every child will react in their own way whether they are just starting school or getting back into the school routine after the summer break. It’s a rollercoaster ride for us all.
For many parents, particularly those of younger children, the school term brings with it a number of concerns and anxieties, and they are not all to do with academic ability. In fact, most parents are quite probably more concerned about their child settling into school life and making friends, than anything else.
Friendships can be tricky things to manage – while some children will settle easily into a game of tag with their classmates, others may be more reserved and will hang back. Some children will be invited to every birthday party and play date going, while others may not. And this can be tough for the child and the parent. As a parent, it is also difficult to know how to manage the issue of friendships – will parents be offended if their child isn’t invited to a birthday party? Should play date invitations always be repeated/reciprocated, especially if the children don’t actually seem to get on all that well.
Writing in the Irish Times this week, Sheila Wayman’s article ‘Lessons in Making Friends’ suggests some ways in which the whole issue of friendships and socialising can be managed. It makes for interesting reading and it’s encouraging to see that it’s actually OK to not have a play date arranged for every day of the week – my house/sanity are frequently just not able to cope with any more than my own children so I’m relieved to see that this doesn’t make me a bad parent!
What do you think? Do you worry about your children making friends at school? Is it important to you that they are a popular member of the class with lots of friends, or are you happy for them to have one or two closer friends with whom they have a special bond? Either way, you can guarantee it is going to be one of the many things keeping us exhausted parents awake at night!