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Starting the School Year Off Strong-Quick Tips for Parents
Highlights from this Blog:
-Check up on your child’s physical and mental health. Review safety information with your child.
-Establish structure and routines before the first day of school.
-Normalize your child’s feelings about school and help them problem solve.
As the 2022-23 school year quickly approaches, students and their parents are likely experiencing a range of emotions. The amount of adjustment which needs to occur can vary depending on the student as well as several other situational factors. Regardless, students will undoubtedly find greater amounts of structure and pressures associated with returning to school, which includes various academic and social demands. Below are some strategies you can try as a parent to help ensure your child’s school year starts off on a positive note.
1. Ensure your child’s physical and mental health.
Have you scheduled a physical for your child recently? To help ensure a strong start, it is recommended that any physical concerns are addressed before the start of school. Something as simple as making sure your child is seeing and hearing properly is extremely important to their learning. Similarly, perhaps you have noticed some mental emotional concerns from the previous school year which have been put on the backburner due to the decreased demands during summer. Although it may be tempting to put these concerns off due to our busy everyday lives, consider being proactive about these types of concerns.
2. Establish routines at least one week before the start of school.
Research shows it can take 21-30 days (or longer) to form a new habit. Therefore, an adjustment period to any new routine is expected. Provide structure and routine to your child’s day before the first day of school. For younger students, consider creating a visual schedule for them. Overall, children tend to respond positively to predictable routines. Minimize the use of electronics in the morning and at night, as this can impact sleep. Additionally, make sure your child is not accessing electronics in the middle of the night without your knowledge.
3. Consider visiting school ahead of time with your child.
Depending on the student, consider visiting school before the first day of school. This could be as simple as driving by the school, walking past it, or arranging an appointment to tour the school and/or to meet their teacher and other school-based professionals. This step is recommended if the student is new to the school, feeling apprehensive, or has difficulty with transitions. Often times, school staff are accommodating when it comes to these types of requests, but it is recommended you contact the school ahead of time.
4. Develop a homework routine and identify a homework spot.
Perhaps your student wants to do their homework on their bed or in a room with their computer? Consider distractions and what might be best for your child’s attention and focus. Older students might want a quiet spot in their room or another area of the house. Younger students might need an area in the kitchen or another room for more direct supervision. Also, consider the light and noise levels of the area.
5. Normalize and help your student manage any anxious feelings.
Validate your child’s emotions. Acknowledge their apprehension if they had a bad experience the previous school year. Try to remain calm and positive. Help your child problem solve and identify coping skills. Encourage your child to ask for help if they need it. Express that it is normal to feel a little anxious whenever there are changes, but this will improve once they become more familiar with their teacher, classmates, and schedule. Let your child know you care about them and will help them if these feelings do not improve.
6. Review safety information with your child.
Have your child memorize their name, address, and your phone numbers. Also, have them memorize an emergency contact name and phone number in case parents cannot be reached. Review with your student how they will get home from school. Review with them what to do in an emergency situation (i.e. call 911 or ask someone to call). Make sure your child is aware of “stranger danger” and knows the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. Also, consider having conversations with your children about internet safety.
7. Be mindful of not over scheduling your child during the school year.
Although extracurricular activities have many positives, kids also need time to be kids, relax, and decompress. Consider the quality of the activities compared to the quantity and select ones which are fun, teach new skills, and reinforce social development.
These tips are a starting point to beginning the year on a positive note. Children are resilient, especially when given support and structure. Remember the transition back to school can take time to adjust for the whole family. By being proactive and communicating with your child, it can be successful.
If you are looking for more support for you or your child, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have licensed therapists that can help with parenting support or work with your child to ease the transition back to school.