By Brooke Skipper, Courier & Press, August 18, 2015 –
It’s August once again, and that means back to school time. Early mornings, structured days, increased activities and mounting homework become your household’s reality.
No matter how many years your child has been in school, transitioning back into the classroom setting can always feel a little chaotic. Minimizing this stress is essential for your entire family’s health and happiness.
Here are some simple yet effective tips to help ease those back-to-school blues.
Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health by scheduling appointments with your family doctor and dentist. Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are age-appropriate issues or require further assessment. Your child will benefit if you can identify and begin addressing a potential issue as soon as it arises.
Establish bedtime and mealtime routines. Routines help reinforce your child’s overall good health. Eating a meal together as a family provides time to reflect on the school day and gauge how your child is coping. If your summer has been largely unstructured, prepare your child for this change by talking about why routines are important.
Familiarize yourself with your child’s teachers as well as other school professionals in the building who can be a resource. This can include the principal and front office personnel; school social worker, psychologist and counselor; the reading specialist, speech therapist and school nurse and coaches and activity coordinators. Youth First Social Workers are available as a resource in over 50 schools in six Southwestern Indiana counties and implement a variety of evidenced- based programs and practices to assist you and your child.
Let your child know you care wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Pay attention to your child’s mood and behavior as school resumes. Make sure to ask open-ended questions about the school day to ensure real communication beyond a “yes” or “no” answer. Praise your child’s effort each day, not the result.
Model positive behavior in your home to increase your child’s healthy coping skills. If there is anxiety about school, reinforce the ability to cope by remaining optimistic and confident in your child. Give your child a few healthy strategies to manage a difficult situation such as talking with someone or journaling.
Remain calm and positive about a new start. Children who have had a difficult time academically or socially or were teased or bullied may be more fearful or reluctant to return to school. Talk about the issues and how things can improve this year. If you have not yet done so, share your child’s concern with the school and confirm that the problem has been addressed. Reassure your child that you and the school are working together to prevent further issues.
Using these strategies in your home can assist your child in feeling more prepared and secure during the return to school. A strong home foundation helps to promote a strong educational foundation. You can directly influence the amount of success your child has at school by promoting a positive attitude, confidence and performance both socially and academically.