We’re Back to School! Now What?

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Article by:  Jody Pierce, LCSW

Pennock Center for Counseling has had an exciting partnership with 27J Schools this year in providing support classes for parents and students to help with the transition back to school. There are many potential challenges that accompany this transition. Children have been home for the summer with free time and more times with parents, and they may be returning to school after schooling mostly from home last year. Either way, parents can help prepare their children for this change and help set them up for a successful school year.

Adequate sleep makes everything easier. Many kids are used to later bedtimes and sleeping in later. Parents can gradually work towards a school bedtime and time for getting up by adjusting these times gradually a week or two before school starts. It is helpful, especially with younger children, to “walk” them through the school day, either verbally or literally by walking them through the building if appropriate. Older children benefit from talking through the schedule for the day and your expectations of them.

Along with sleep schedules, daily routines always make kids feel more secure and this can include homework time again. Along with nurture, children need structure and predictability. Some children are anxious about going back to school and starting a conversation about this is a good idea. Kids benefit from reassurance that they are not the only ones with mixed feelings about school. Parents get to be the biggest cheerleader for their children. Parents also can teach coping skills that can become skills for a lifetime. Belly breathing, visualizing a favorite place, and positive self-talk can make such a difference. And lastly, but most importantly, establishing open communication about school lets kids know that they can talk about their feelings and needs.

It is a good idea to talk about school daily. Open ended questions like, “How was it?” of “What went on?” work well. If you see significant behavior changes; like grades tanking, avoidance of school and mood changes, your child may need further support. The new school year is exciting and can be challenging. Remember to support children, parents need support and good self-care too! Get our free handout for helpful tips!