Transitioning from summer break to a school schedule can be challenging for both parents and children. Mixed emotions related to excitement, nervousness, and adjustment can impact families in multiple ways. Managing this change can be stressful for some families and working towards making the shift takes work. However, being proactive can help mitigate these potential stressors by identifying sources of stress and actively problem-solving in advance. There are several ways parents and children can begin to prepare for the new school year and handle back to school season smoothly.
1) Begin by talking with your child about any anxiety related to beginning school and allow them to share their feelings in an open and safe way. Sometimes parents believe that just because the child doesn’t bring it up or mention it, it must not bother them, but this is on the contrary. Beginning the conversation with your child and opening the door to have this discussion allows children to feel that it is okay to share. So, go ahead parents, ask and inquire.
2) Now if you are going to talk to your children about their stress or anxiety, it is also important to address your own personal feelings. If you feel anxious for your child, they are likely to feel anxious too. Identify what feelings you may have, and what feelings and experienced in previous school year transitions. Anticipate, prepare, and proactively manage your own feelings in a healthy and adaptive way.
3) Establish a routine and structure before school starts, as the first day of school is probably not the best time to make changes to morning and bedtime routines. Start working on the routine that you are anticipating in advance. This allows the child to adjust and for you to tweak any areas that may need to be addressed, such as time management.
4) Adjusting to a new routine and structure can be hard for some. A new school year typically means a different family schedule, as there is limited free time and more responsibility with homework. Begin to talk with your children about how some of the rules regarding privileges (i.e. electronics) may need to change due to school needs. Discussing these rule changes in advance allows children to handle the change and be prepared when it does happen.
5) Focus on how you want to structure homework time if needed. Anticipating and identify the needs of your child after a long day of school, this can be important step in gaining compliance and cooperation. Learn and know your child. Understand if they need a snack, physical activity, or less stimulation to function at their best. Remember, coming home from an extended day at school is like returning home from a long day of work for you. Help your children identify what they need to perform at their best.
Now if all these suggestions seem overwhelming, there is an important point to remember. Attending school doesn’t have to always be stressful, it can be FUN. Children interact, develop social skills, and build friendships. These can be enjoyable. Spend time with your children each day, ask and learn about their school experiences, while also focusing on the positive aspects. Enjoying individual time with your children is so important, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. So, don’t let the new school year get you down, be proactive and make the transition a positive one!