Where did the summer go? It is hard to believe that a new school year has begun! The start of a new school year can be an exciting yet challenging time for children. Whether returning to the classroom after a break or starting at a new school, the transition can often be stressful for kids.
As parents or supportive adults, it is essential to provide support and guidance to help ease their worries and ensure a smooth adjustment. In this article, we will explore practical strategies to facilitate your child's transition back to school.
Foster a Bond with the Teacher
One of the critical factors in helping your child settle into school is establishing a strong bond with their teacher. Children need to feel connected to an adult they trust and feel safe. If you notice your child struggling to adjust, contact the teacher and express your concerns. Most experienced teachers will understand and try to reach out to your child. They may assign them a particular job or role in the classroom to help them feel connected and valued.
Encourage Social Connections with Peers
In addition to bonding with the teacher, it is vital for children to feel connected to their peers. Ask the teacher if they have observed who your child tends to spend time with, and encourage your child to invite those friends over for playdates. If your child hesitates about inviting someone, consider organizing a casual get-together with the friend's family outside of school. This can help foster new friendships and create a supportive social network for your child.
Validate and Address Worries
Children often experience school anxiety due to irrational fears or worries. Creating a safe space for your child to express these concerns and validate their feelings is crucial. Empathize with their worries and acknowledge that their fears are understandable. Instead of simply reassuring them, empower your child by engaging in problem-solving. You can and should encourage them to develop potential solutions and imagine themselves successfully handling challenging situations. This process helps build their confidence and resilience.
Calm Their Fears
Children naturally look to their parents for reassurance about their safety. While acknowledging their concerns, expressing confidence in their ability to navigate the school environment is essential. Please share your own positive school experiences and emphasize that it is normal to feel a bit anxious in new situations. Remind them that their teacher cares for them and that you will always be available if they need support. Reassure them that love and support are constant, even when you are not physically present.
It is easy for us to point out the negative in others (and ourselves). Instead, let us try to highlight when someone does something good! No matter the size, be sure to praise your loved ones when they get a good grade, complete a chore without you asking, when they help others, etc. This can include writing a positive affirmation in their lunch box, sending a text throughout the day or verbally saying how proud you are of them. Being positive also includes modeling self love and grace. Remember that you may be the only positive voice your child hears that day.
Saying goodbye can be particularly challenging for children who struggle with separation anxiety. Establish a consistent and reassuring goodbye routine to ease their transition. Remind them that you will be waiting for them at the end of the day and provide them with a sense of security. If the separation continues to be difficult, communicate with the teacher and explore the possibility of assigning your child a particular task or responsibility each morning to make the transition smoother.
Calm Household Routines
During the summer, it is normal for our students to have unstructured days. It is important to slowly begin establishing a routine again. Routine includes having a schedule established ahead of time that contains expectations for each day after school. Create an after school routine based on your child. Just like adults, they may need to unwind, process the day, ground themselves, be alone after a day full of social stimulation, have a snack or do something active after sitting more than usual. They may benefit from eating a meal together, completing homework assignments or doing their chores before playing or relaxing.
Maintaining a calm and structured routine at home can significantly contribute to your child's overall well-being and adjustment to school. Ensure that your child gets enough sleep, as a well-rested child is better equipped to cope with the demands of the school day. Set early bedtimes and establish peaceful mornings to hopefully begin with a positive start to the day. Additionally, routines include establishing a healthy hygiene that includes tasks like regularly brushing their teeth and taking a bath/shower. Having a proper hygiene routine not only makes our students look good, but feel good as well. By prioritizing self-care and maintaining a predictable household environment, you can model healthy habits for your child and promote a smooth transition back to school.
There is time for everything, if we prioritize it in our schedules. Try dedicating at least one day of relaxation time per week. This is designed to be a mental health break from all school work. During this time, there should be no mention of school, homework, studying or chores. It gives our loved ones time to recharge their brain. It should include time outside and focus on activities that your loved ones enjoy doing. As adults, we get tired and overwhelmed when we are always on the go. It is important for students to have breaks and to form healthy habits early so they become adults who know how to practice self-care
As the primary caregiver for your student, you are their biggest support. How can we be effective at this? Try a compassion check-in. Find a time to ask your loved one how you can best support them? By utilizing compassion check ins, you are not only creating a stronger relationship between you and them, but you are also strengthening their future interpersonal relationships with others
Remember, every child is unique, and their adjustment to school will vary. Practice patience, understanding, and open communication with your child to support them during this transition. Implementing these strategies can help ease their worries and ensure a triumphant return to the school environment.