While kids enjoy having fun, relaxing and hanging out with family, the start of the school year can sometimes be accompanied with difficulty, stress, and worry. Many of us can relate to how challenging it can be as adults returning to our normal routine after time off. It’s especially true for our littles ones as they start school for the first time, or go back for another year. So what can we do to recognise these feelings, and what’s the ‘Little Sparks’ program all about that’s being delivered by Beam?
Back to school challenges
Some children, and young people, are excited and eager for a new school year. They look forward to learning new things and reconnecting with friends. For others, returning to school can be a worrying time, as children separate from their parents or siblings.
It may also be the ‘unknown’ stresses that create worry for a child. A new teacher, new classroom, new classmates, and new learning. This may present as worries, clinginess, tears at the school gate, refusal or even tantrums during the morning routine. Some children may flat out refuse to attend school altogether.
Benefits of routine
While distress about transitioning or returning to school can be caused by a number of things, one of the biggest challenges we see at Beam Health Services, is the difficulty in adjusting to a new routine after being on holidays. Children may feel tired, overwhelmed or overstimulated. Other children may need more time to settle back in to school life.
Having a predictable family routine at home can help a child manage change more effectively. Knowing what is going to happen next, can help to reduce anxiety, help them feel in control, and allow them to start their day with confidence.
Impacting the whole family
If you have a little one who is feeling exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed adjusting, or transitioning to back to school, it can be emotionally draining on parents and carers. This is especially hard if you have a difficult morning, or a distressing drop-off at school.
These challenges can leave a parent feeling guilty, worried and fatigued. It’s really important to recognise the impact it can have on us as parents. Remember to care for yourself as well.
If you’re recognising some of these concerns in your little one, it may be helpful to seek professional advice from a psychologist.
Seeking a professional to help your child with this transition is a great idea. Some signs to look out for include:
- Your child is distressed or might express that they don’t want to go to school or refuse to attend school at all.
- Your child is complaining of headaches or tummy aches the night before or the morning of a school day. These are often signs that your child might be experiencing anxiety or worry about school.
- Your child is having trouble sleeping, is waking up throughout the night, or is having nightmares.
- Your child is no longer enjoying activities that they once enjoyed doing.
- School staff comment on your child participating less in activities, or with their peers in the classroom or playground.
- Any other behaviour not listed that you believe is a concern.
Mental health support for your child
Beam Health is delivering a new Primary Health Network funded pilot program ‘Little Sparks’ throughout the Hunter New England and Central Coast. This program provides free mental health supports for children under 12 years of age that’s delivered by trained, experienced, and child-focused psychologists and mental health clinicians.
The Little Sparks program is primarily aimed at providing access to those children who may otherwise not be able to afford support due to financial hardship. Beam Health has clinics in Cessnock, Tuggerah, and Warners Bay, as well as pop up clinics in East Maitland and Muswellbrook. They provide services to children living in these areas with flexible delivery options including face-to-face, telehealth, or other alternative options.
Accessing the program
Referrals to this program can be made directly from a General Practitioner (GP) for 12 sessions within a calendar year. There are also options for other health professionals, such as a school counsellor to provide a provisional referral for the first 2 sessions while families are waiting to get a referral from their GP.
For more information about the Little Sparks program and how to access our services at Beam Health, please visit the link below, as well as our social media platforms.
Beam Health Services | We believe all children, young people and families should be able to live a bright life
Beam Health is a team of passionate, qualified and experienced Psychologists, Mental Health Practitioners, Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists that support children, youth and families to live a bright life. They provide therapy, consultation, assessments and general support to many children and families throughout Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and the Hunter Region. Beam Health are registered with NDIS and Medicare.