Here we go again – it’s back to school time!
The signs are everywhere. There’s no way to ignore it – it is time for the often stressful back to school adventure. In the midst of excitement as kids get new clothes and supplies, be aware that many kids also experience anxiety about returning to school. Kids may anticipate, yet not voice out loud, concerns around new teachers and new classes. One real concern for kids is the unspoken worry over reconnecting with peers after the summer break, which may have included changes in their physical development as well as in establishing new friendships. If your student is transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school, the stresses are even more significant. A new campus, perhaps now changing classes, certainly new teachers and new expectations, and possibly the often-dreaded PE fiasco of having to “dress out” - can ALL create tension. Adults can provide a buffer in this transition by helping kids ease back into a healthy routine around mealtimes and sleep schedules which may have been relaxed somewhat over the more carefree days of summer vacation.
Other suggestions to help prepare and support your student as the first day of school draws near include:
Revisit with your student the successes and good times experienced during the last school year. This need not necessarily be academic – remember sports, drama plays, band recitals that your student participated in and particularly enjoyed. Focusing on positives will reinforce their strengths and abilities, promoting positive expectations for the coming year. It will also reaffirm that she/he has talents and can do well.
If your student is going to a new school, be sure to visit the campus with your student before school starts and simply walk around getting familiar with where the cafeteria, office, library, and restrooms are to ease the early days of school. Most schools provide an orientation day when schedules are given out, however that is often a pretty chaotic time and not the best day for a calm visit. Following up with a quiet relaxed trip to the school can relieve anxiety ahead of time by also providing the opportunity to locate classes listed on their schedule.
Check out the school’s website to become familiar with policies, procedures, activities, the calendar, etc. for the coming year. Share this with your student and clarify any questions.
Be sure your student has what is needed for the new year. Organization is often one of the biggest challenges to students doing well in school. Many schools provide a planner for students to record assignments however some kids may need extra help in learning how to be organized. This may require a binder with dividers to keep subjects separate or individual folders for each class. In any case, don’t assume your child KNOWS how to be organized – like anything else this is a skill that needs to be taught and learned. Consider offering some “tips” in a friendly, non-judgmental way.
As days draw closer, wonderings may be swirling around in your student’s mind anticipating the new school year. Be available to talk. Stop what you’re doing if at all possible and give them your full attention showing you are interested and want to support them in making the coming year successful. Chats in the car are often good times for talks that don’t feel like lectures to kids. Keep in mind that a positive start often flows into a successful school year with less discipline issues and academic concerns.
I wish you and yours a wonderful journey this year with exciting new experiences. Once again, should you or someone you know need some help through a challenging time, I invite you to phone or email me.
Debbie Bauer, LMFT
~easing life’s journey~