Every fall, children head back to school. While some will be going for the first time, others will be making the transition to a new grade or perhaps even a new school.
Transitioning into a new school year can be exciting, but some children are fearful. Thoughts about new teachers, concerns over moving to a new school or anxiety about a new grade are all things your child may be thinking, but not talking about.
No matter the age of your child, this is an important time of year for them. Parents can help get the year off to a great start by establishing rituals and consistency around the school day.
As human beings, we like to know what to expect, but this is especially true for children. When structure and consistency are missing in their lives, they tend to feel out of control, which can lead to acting out. The acting out behavior could range from temper tantrums to refusing to do homework or being disrespectful.
When preparing for a new school year, it is the perfect time to establish a game plan to help your child launch into the school year on a positive note. Here are a few suggestions to help your child have a positive experience:
- Talk with your children before school starts about the weeks ahead. For younger children, a trip to school is very important. What doesn’t seem scary to adults may be very scary to a young child. Take their feelings seriously. Decide how many extracurricular activities will be allowed.
- Discuss emergency plans. What happens if your child gets sick? Who will pick up your children in the event of a crisis? Also, talk with your child about how you want them to deal with strangers.
- Establish a morning and evening routine. These times can be hurried and stressful, creating anxiety for parents as well as children. Determine ahead of time what you expect. Will you eat breakfast together? What time do you expect your children to be out of bed and getting ready? Who packs lunches? What time should everybody be ready to leave the house? You might want to do a couple of practice runs prior to the start of school. Evening routines might include: setting out the clothes for the next day, putting all of the school gear in one place, and touching base as a family before going to bed. This can really help the morning be a more pleasant experience.
- Make sure your child gets adequate rest. Whether you have young children or teens, research shows that they need around 10 hours of sleep.
- Know your child. Be in touch with your child’s needs. When making decisions about homework, chores, television, etc., consider these questions: Is your child an early riser or a night owl? Do little things tend to stress them out? Consider different options for accomplishing tasks.
When children see you taking their concerns about school seriously, they are more likely to be more excited and less anxious about the experience. Investing your time and effort will give your children the best chance for success.