How to handle a tough first week at school

Here are some tips on how to thrive and not just survive

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If you're finding the first week back at school a little tricky, then you're probably not alone.

Making friends in a new school isn't always that easy — for pupils or parents. And even older children returning to classes can take a while to settle back in.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, a long-serving head teacher in Dubai, shared her advice on how to adjust.

The best schools and their teachers tend to have sessions to help everyone relax on day one.

Just remember, everyone starts off in the same place as you
Rashmi Nandkeolyar

“We have lots of icebreakers, games in class, welcome boards and class teachers' period,” said Ms Nandkeolyar, head of Delhi Private School Dubai in Jebel Ali.

“Try to integrate and get everybody to talk about their experiences … make videos, presentations, all sorts of things.”

Try to make friends, even if you're nervous

“Positive body language, a smile, a hello, goes a long way in making friends,” she said.

“Try to strike up a conversation with someone who shares your interests, be it a bus partner, the person sitting close to you or who you partner with in class activities.

“Just remember, everyone starts off in the same place as you. Try to have confidence and send affirmations to yourself, reminding yourself of your successes.”

A transient population in the Emirates mean that pupils join and leave schools more often than in other places.

And many teachers are good at looking out for new pupils and try to ease them into school life.

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you're finding things difficult.

Don't pressure yourself

Rashmi Nandkeolyar says pupils and parents should not put too much pressure on themselves, and that making trends and getting used to school life takes time. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Ms Nandkeolyar encouraged children and parents to be kind to themselves and remember they would not be able to learn everything in one day.

Joining school clubs can be a good start, allowing you to get to know people outside of formal classes.

Good manners and being courteous and helpful go a long way.

Speak to your parents about your anxieties

“Do not allow yourself to be bullied in any way,” Ms Nandkeolyar said.

She asked pupils to speak with a trusted adult at home or a school counsellor or teacher about their anxieties.

“There are processes in place to make everybody comfortable, but then there is that child who needs more help.

“So that child, we will advise them to speak to a trusted adult or their counsellors or class teachers,” she said.

Don’t be shy about sharing your talents

Be it singing, dancing, sports or games, admiration does win you friends, said the head teacher.

She encouraged pupils to get involved and be confident in their talents.

Dress to feel confident

Make an effort to be well groomed when you come to school, Ms Nandkeolyar said.

Looking good and being neat and tidy would make pupils feel more confident.

Remember, we cannot succeed all the time

“Take the occasional set back in your stride. Be resilient and try again,” she said.

“Keep the end goals in mind and persevere,” she added.

Updated: August 31, 2022, 3:15 AM