Easing Back into School
- August 25, 2014
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Encouraging your child to engage in quiet activities such as reading, puzzles, flash cards, or coloring will help them transition into the learning environment of the classroom. Involving your child in the process of brainstorming different low-key pastimes will encourage them to be engaged and enthusiastic!
Be Prepared & Aware!
We all know that there are many things that need to be done to be ready for school and it is normal as parents to feel overwhelmed. Be aware; however, that children are constantly watching us for cues about how to behave in certain situations. If your own anxiety is amped up, seeking healthy ways to reduce it will benefit both you and your child.
Some stress reduction tips include:
- Be prepared: Consider making a to-do list with a reasonable timeline for completion. Seeing a list on paper with a schedule for completion may be less overwhelming than keeping a to-do list in your head and it makes delegating easier. Check-off tasks as you and your children complete them, modeling for them effective strategies for managing their own future school responsibilities!
- Breathe: If you begin to feel anxious, practice deep breathing. Three or four deep diaphragmatic breaths will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which works to calm the body down. This breathing can be done anywhere: at home, in line at the store, while driving (eyes open!). This is a great skill to teach and model for your children as well.
- Take care of yourself: Amongst the shopping, organizing, and planning, be sure to take time for self-care. Everyone’s self-care is different. Caring for yourself during busy and possibly stressful times models important priorities for your children.
A consistent bedtime is a cornerstone of any family routine. It is important to begin reestablishing a consistent bedtime routine at least one-week prior to the start of school. This includes waking at the necessary school time. You can prepare your child for this by discussing the benefits of a routine bedtime, i.e. feeling rested for the school day, not being overwhelmed by school activities, etc. Allowing your child to contribute to the structure of the bedtime routine (such as selecting the book, story, or song) will help give them a sense ownership as well as the desire to maintain it. Encourage calm activities prior to bedtime, avoiding active play and television.
Meal Time “Check-In”!
Eating together is an opportunity for a family to connect, bond, and learn from each other. Research has shown that the benefits of family meals include better nutrition, additional language development, improved grades, and a better attitude about the future. Beginning or re-instating family meal time prior to the beginning of the school year ensures this important family communication routine is already in place before the busyness of school begins.
Talk, Talk, Talk!
A new school year is sure to bring jitters for children of all ages. Many children become anxious about things such as a new teacher, new classmates, getting lost, and a changing workload. A planned visit to tour the school and meet the teacher could help comfort your child and ease concerns. Above all, effective communication surrounding the back-to-school transition promotes trusting, healthy family relationships.
- Be an active listener. You can convey you are listening by reflecting your child’s emotions back to them. For example, “I hear that you are worried about not knowing your teacher.” Conveying this presence builds trust and promotes further communication.
- Enthusiasm is often contagious! Speak positively about the exciting prospects of the new school year and share your own experiences. Reminisce with your child about their prior successes and and invite your child to identify their favorite memories of the prior school year. Invite your child to brainstorm ways a new classroom could be fun and interesting. Remind your child of their academic and personality strengths and that you will always support them.