How to Help Your Highly Sensitive Child Back to School After the Summer Break

It’s possible that your highly sensitive child (HSC) is showing little enthusiasm for their return to school after the summer break. Sharing the virtues with them of a return to a routine and structure will probably not be enough to win them over, despite it being a valid positive.

Time and time again in the Happy Sensitive Kids forum it’s clear that school presents a specific challenge for HSCs because of:

  • Noise in the classroom.
  • The constant changing of activities.
  • The pressure to perform.
  • Not knowing what is coming up that day/week.
  • Trying to please a teacher.
  • The inability to deal with a teacher’s harsh tone of voice or showing of anger or displeasure with something or someone.
  • Dislike of conflict or classroom politics.
  • Repetitive lessons, instruction or study materials which fail to challenge a HSC. Many HSCs are extremely bright, good students who pick things up quickly- something that is not always recognised because they also get easily overwhelmed and lose focus and concentration.

How to Help Your Highly Sensitive Child Back to School After the Summer Break

Sitting with your child’s teacher early in the new school year can help them understand your child and their needs right from the start. Don’t assume that information from the previous school year is passed on succinctly to the new teacher – remember that your child is just one of many children a teacher needs to get to know. Don’t assume that the tools and methods that were successfully implemented in a previous school year will be automatically applied in the new school year. At the start of a new school year it’s often best to be THAT parent!

Plan a discussion with your child’s teacher around:

  • Your child’s particular sensitivities – explain what overwhelms them in the classroom: noise, visual stimuli, emotions, information overload, lots of activity around them, the raised voice of a teacher.
  • How your child feels about coming to school. Many display negative emptions about attending school. Being upfront with your child’s teacher can help them help your child – after all a teacher is the expert when it comes to educating your child. Fresh ideas are always welcome.
  • Your child’s seating arrangements  in the classroom. A HSC can easily be overwhelmed sitting in the middle of the classroom and may be better suited to sitting at an outer desk. Humming from the computers may be annoying, the white board too bright and next to the classroom entrance may prove too distracting. Your child’s sensitivities will help your child’s teacher understand where best to place your child.
  • Giving your child the space, time and opportunities for quiet moments. HSCs need quiet time to recharge and that applies in school too. Think about noise reducing earphones, moving to a quiet space in the hallway to complete a task before rejoining the class, a reading corner or a library area, running errands to get your child away from the busy class for a few minutes.
  • Recognising when your child is lacking challenge. A HSC is easily stressed and finding the balance between staying interested and challenged but also being able to perform under pressure is difficult but important. Many HSCs dislike going to school because of the environment but are actually eager to learn.

Planning a follow up sit down with your child and their teacher can also be beneficial. A teacher can instantly discuss ideas or tools with your child and your child immediately knows he or she is being taken seriously, which may help them settle in the new classroom.

As far as home goes you can also help your HSC by giving them the time and space to talk out their school day and providing them with the opportunity to wind down and empty their buckets. Often a small thing gets built up in a HSCs mind and talking about it can really help them get perspective. Most of all, help your HSC take the start of their new school year one day at a time……….

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About Amanda van Mulligen

Mother, writer, author, blogger. I was born in Britain but live in the Netherlands. I have three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and I blog about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children.
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