The summer is half over and we are quickly approaching the time to return to school. As the new school year gets closer, both parents and students will have to make some changes and adjustments to their schedules to prepare for the structured school schedule.
It may be helpful to begin by getting your child (and maybe even yourself) on a good sleep schedule. Begin by going to bed a little earlier each night until you have reached the ultimate desired bedtime. You may also want to practice waking up progressively earlier in the mornings until you reach the time your child(ren) will be waking up each day during the school year. By making these changes gradually it will not be such a shock to their system (and yours).
Whether or not your child(ren) is new to a school or just beginning a different grade in the school they attended the previous year, a new school year can still be an adjustment. Your child(ren) may be experiencing some anxiety regarding having a new teacher, meeting new peers, or not being in class with their best friend. It is important to talk to your child(ren) and listen to their fears. Validate their feelings and encourage them to ask for help if they need it. Help your child(ren) identify adults at the school that they may talk to if they are experiencing these feelings during the school day. Some suggestions would be: the school counselor, the teacher, the principal, or the school nurse. As a parent, you are your child(ren)’s natural choice for support. Being that you are not with them during the school day, it will be important for them to know who they can turn to for support.
Try to make the upcoming change fun for your child. Take them shopping for new school supplies and even some new school clothes if it is in your budget. Allow them to make choices regarding folders and writing utensils, etc. so that they can become excited about returning to school.
If your child(ren) are starting at a new school for the first time, try to make sure they are familiar with the school. Come with them on the first day and tour the school with them. If you are able to contact school personnel prior to the first day of school and get a tour, even better! Help your child feel comfortable with their school. If possible, walk them to their classroom on the first day. Meet their teacher and model for your child(ren). If you are showing them that you are comfortable then they are likely to be more comfortable as well.
It will be important to help your child(ren) feel comfortable with the adults at school, especially their teacher. Typically, you find out at the end of the school year who the teacher will be for the upcoming school year. Talk to your child(ren) about their new teacher. Encourage them to ask questions and try to remain positive so that they will be positive as well. After all, children learn from their parents/guardians!