As summer is winding down, you and your family may be looking ahead to the start of school. The anticipation of new classes, teachers and experiences can often trigger a mix of excitement and anxiety for kids, especially if they’ll be going to a new school. Even if they are remaining at the same school, getting back into the rhythm of the weekly school routine can be a challenge after a freewheeling summer schedule. Without advanced preparation, the first weeks can be chaotic and add to stress.
Here are tips to help you prepare for a rewarding school year.
Return to routines. Slowly ease your children back into set bedtimes and breakfast and dinner routines. Start limiting TV time. This can help them be ready for the structure of school.
Get your child comfortable with what’s ahead. Discuss what the upcoming year in a new grade might look like, what great new things they’ll learn, and activities to try out. If your child is anxious about attending a different school, call before school starts to see if you both can meet the teacher and take a tour of the school.
Get a calendar that everyone can see. And be sure to schedule in blocks of time for family time and unstructured play activities. Overscheduling kids with too many planned lessons and sports leaves little room to recharge, create, bond with others, and just “be” without performing.
Give everyone a bin near the front door. This “landing strip” can eliminate hunting for backpacks, keys, and important papers in the morning rush.
Make sure they have information they need to be safe. Discuss the transportation to and from school and after-school care or activities. Be sure kids and caregivers have your schedule and contact numbers of people to call in an emergency.
Budget for supplies. The cost of books, notebooks, clothes, uniforms and other school supplies can be overwhelming! Search for sales, or used laptops and other supplies. Start shopping early to reduce last-minute financial stress.
Encourage your kids to reconnect with classmates. It’s easy to lose touch with friends throughout summer due to family activities. If you have young children, try to schedule play dates with classmates. Talk to your teens and older children about setting up time to see some of their friends.
Practice positive reinforcement. Recognize their academic, creative and athletic accomplishments throughout the year. This helps them build self-esteem, sense of worth and instills a life-long desire to learn and grow.
Look for signs of an unhealthy adjustment. If your child develops aches or pains, is moody, withdrawn or uncommunicative, it could be a sign that he or she is feeling overwhelmed, threatened, can’t see the blackboard, or is afraid of speaking up in class. Calmly ask questions about your child’s day, listen attentively and offer reassurance. If you sense a bigger issue, consider talking to the teacher or guidance counselor.
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program, call us today to connect with a Licensed Professional Counselor who can help you and your family prepare for a successful school year. You’ll receive support and tips to reduce stress, communicate effectively, manage your time and find resources for at-risk youth and other needs. And if you have access to our advocacy services, our Personal Health Advocates are happy to help you resolve your healthcare and insurance-related issues and questions, such as locating in-network providers, researching treatment options, resolving billing and claims issues, and more. We’re always at your side—and always grateful for the opportunity to help you.