For many families, it’s that time of year when students return to school. Parents and children are adjusting to starting school, whether that involves going to a new school or transitioning back to their previous school. This can be easy for some families, while others may be worried or anxious about how their child will cope with returning to school.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, it is important to make sure your child gets off to a good start because it can influence your child’s attitude, confidence, and social and academic performance.
To help improve adjustment and decrease difficulties, it is necessary for parents to be prepared. The following suggestions from the American Psychological Association may be helpful for parents to help their child transition back to school.
1. Practice the first day of school routine.
Getting into a sleep routine before the first week of school will aid in easing the shock of waking up early.
Organizing things at home — backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money — will help make the first morning go smoothly.
Having healthy, yet kid-friendly lunches will help keep them energized throughout the day.
Also, walking through the building and visiting your child’s locker and classroom will help ease the anxiety of the unknown.
2. Get to know your neighbors.
If your child is starting a new school, walk around your block and get to know the neighborhood children. Try and set up a play date, or, for an older child, find out where neighborhood kids might go to safely hang out, like the community pool, recreation center or park.
3. Talk to your child.
Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share their burdens.
Inquire about what they liked about their previous school or grade and see how those positives can be incorporated into their new experience.
4. Empathize with your children.
Change can be difficult, but also exciting. Let your children know that you are aware of what they’re going through and that you will be there to help them in the process.
Nerves are normal, but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. It is important to encourage your children to face their fears instead of falling into the trap of encouraging avoidance.
5. Get involved and ask for help.
Knowledge of the school and the community will better equip you to understand your child’s surroundings and the transition he or she is undergoing. Meeting members of your community and school will foster support for both you and your child.
If you feel the stress of the school year is too much for you and your child to handle on your own, seeking expert advice from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, will help you better manage and cope.