In just a few short weeks and we will be back to school. Teachers, parents and caregivers are preparing for students to head back into the classroom and the help they provide will play an important role in the success of each student. Here are six things you can do to help your child have a successful start to the school year.
First, remember to breathe.
We’ve all been in a new situation and remember how difficult it can be. Remember, other kids, parents and caregivers are also going through the same thing.
If anxiety sets in and you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to just breathe. Wherever you are, take a moment and do just that.
Second, talk about the logistics.
Transitioning back to school after summer can bring about some anxieties with new schedules, locations and faces. The best way to discuss how someone is feeling is to talk about it. Use open-ended questions such as “What are your top two concerns?” or “What are you most worried about?”
This way, together you can discuss the worries and explore what the possible solutions may be. This may include looking through the school website, visiting the school at open houses, meeting the teachers, practicing opening their lockers and locating the bathrooms and lunchrooms.
Third, ease into the social transition.
The social scene may be an area of worry for some students. Will I see my friends? Where will I sit at lunch? Will I make new friends?
To ease the social transition, encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities. Discuss social skills and what being a good friend means. For example, have a discussion on how actions and words affect others or how to handle difficult social situations.
Fourth, discuss any academic concerns.
Your child may have concerns about academics. How much homework will I have? Are the teachers tough graders? Will the classes be difficult?
You can help ease academic concerns by meeting the teachers early in the school year to discuss your child’s strengths and any areas where they may need more attention. Develop ways for your child to manage time. Work collaboratively on a schedule that will include time to study, breaks and continue their household chores.
Also, attend back-to-school events, parent-teacher conferences and other school events to connect with their teachers.
Fifth, promote healthy sleeping habits.
Getting enough sleep contributes to a child’s overall health and well-being. To stay focused and improve academic performance and concentration, a child should get adequate sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep and teens 13-18 need 8-10 hours of sleep.
You can promote healthy sleeping patterns by keeping a regular sleep schedule. Make it a family priority to get enough sleep. Set clear limits, such as turning off devices with lighted screens — cell phones, electronic games, computers — one hour prior to bed.
Lastly, if your child needs some extra support, let someone know.
There are a lot of different aspects to take into consideration when transitioning back to school. Stay in contact with teachers, aides or school counselors and let them know your child is excited and looking forward to school but also alert them to signs that they might need some assistance.
Going back to school can be overwhelming. Reassure your child that they will feel more comfortable as the school year progresses. Encourage your child and let them know that you, the teachers and the school want them to be successful.
Be sure to celebrate the good days. And if all else fails, tip No. 1 — remember to breathe — will still be there.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2022-23 school year!
Julie Aune is the Director of Social Services at the Human Services Center. Julie is a Licensed Certified Social Worker and Qualified Mental Health Professional. The mission of the Human Services Center (HSC) is to provide individuals who are mentally ill or chemically dependent with effective, individualized professional treatment enabling them to achieve their highest level of personal independence in the most therapeutic environment.