Tips for Back to School Success
I know the young folks out there may not want to hear it, but summer break will soon be over for most, and school will be officially back in session! Although going back to school can be an exciting time for students, it can also be stressful for many children, especially younger ones. There are, however, many things that parents can do to help make this transition easier for the stressed out student in their household. According to the “Family Education” website there are a number of ways to help kids get back into the routine of school without the anxiety. If kids are going to a new school, it may be helpful to tour the facility and meet the child’s teacher before classes actually begin. This can normally be done at the school’s scheduled open house, and it can be a valuable technique to ensure a smoother transition.
First off, it is important to get your child back on a regular sleeping schedule. During the first week of of school, wake your child up early and allow them plenty of time to get ready for the day. A nutritious breakfast is a great way to start the morning and will help make sure your child is alert and ready to learn. If you are packing your child’s lunch it may be nice to pack one of their favorite foods and include a note of encouragement. It may also be a good idea to drive your child to school on the first few days, even if you plan on using alternative transportation during the year. If you think it may help your child get readjusted to the classroom, you may want to walk them to their room and reintroduce yourself and your child to their teacher. Take the time to introduce yourself to any of the other parents milling around. Before you leave, remember to remind your child what time you will be back to pick them up at school or the bus stop, and don’t be late! Always be respectful of the teacher’s need to establish routines right away on those first days, so don’t stick around the classroom very long. After the first couple of days, it is important to begin to foster your child’s independence and encourage them to go to their classrooms by themselves. The hallways, sidewalks and classrooms are well attended by school staff in an elementary school and will be glad to help your child on their way if they need it.
Many very young children experience some separation anxiety from the parent on their first days of school. Local school counselors stress the importance of leaving the child, even if they are crying, and establishing a normal routine. In most circumstances the children stop crying as soon as the parent is out of ear shot. It never takes long for them to get swept up in the fun activities and routines that the teacher has planned for the day. Consistency is the key in these instances and letting children stay home or go to school late during a bout of separation anxiety rarely helps and may make fostering independence even more difficult.
Once you pick your kids up after their first few days of school, make sure to give them the chance to tell you all about their day. It will help them to process the events that took place and share stories about their new class, teachers, and friends. Often times after a few days, kids will begin to feel more comfortable and establish a routine for school. Once this routine is established, both you and your kids will be on track for a productive and successful school year!
Bill Stone is County Extension Director with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.