Written by: Linda Herring, M.S., LPC
It’s that time of year again when the summer is over and the new school year is starting. There are mixed emotions coming from both parents and children. Parents are more than likely feeling some relief and maybe a little nervousness. Relief that the kids are going to be out of the house and out of their hair and nervousness of all the things that need to get done to prepare their child to have a wonderful school year. Children are more than likely feeling excitement and anxiety. Excitement about reconnecting with school friends they don’t keep in touch with over the summer and anxiety about being in another grade with a new teacher with harder classes. Here are some general tips to help start the school year off on a positive note:
- Get everyone back into a good routine. This should start 1 to 2 weeks before school starts. Start making bedtime around the same time as you would like when school starts. Start waking up earlier to ensure kids get used to waking up in time for school. Make meals around the times you would be eating when school starts. You can also make sure you have your family’s emergency plans and contacts ready just in case they’re needed.
- Review expectations. Start talking to your kids about what you expect out of them for the school year. Clarity in regards to waking up on time, eating breakfast, doing homework, after school activities, chores, and their bedtime routine can help your kids know what is expected out of them during the coming school year.
- Encourage after-school activities. I am a big advocate of extracurricular activities. It keeps children out of trouble after school, teaches them sportsmanship, helps develop social skills outside of the classroom, and increases self esteem. After school activities can range from athletics, community volunteering, school clubs, band, etc.
- One last family outing. Consider one last family outing right before the start of the school year. This gives kids a last hoorah before the grind of the school year starts. It’s also a great way to spend some quality time together before the craziness begins.
- Get acquainted. Get your kids familiar with their school. Introduce them to their teacher, a new principal, or tour the school. Something as simple as driving through the school grounds to show them where they’ll be dropped off and picked up can help ease their anxiety.
Starting the new school year can have mixed emotions for the whole family. It typically takes about a month for everyone to adjust to the new routine in the home. Strive to be consistent, patient, and stay in tune to your kid’s needs. If you’re curious about any changes in your child, it will be helpful to already have a good relationship with your child’s teacher, school counselor, and friends. And of course, if you start to have any concerns about your child’s behavior, mood, or grades you can always seek assistance from a third party professional.