The Season of Change…Helping your children feel ready for a new school year

Can you feel it? The mornings are getting cooler, the air smells crisp, the high school is bustling with activity, the school emails are coming in, and the state fair is around the corner! It is that time of year – late August when many of us get ready for a change of routine. Some people, adults and children alike, are excited about all the unknowns that lie ahead and others begin to feel anxious.

It is all normal and being alright with whatever you or your children are feeling is very important. When we can label and acknowledge how we feel, the tight grip it has on us, can slowly dissipate. Denying feelings of nervousness, anxiousness or fear only amplifies it. So when your child tells you they are scared or nervous about the first day of school, you can respond with, “I get that, the first day can be scary.” After pausing and letting them feel heard, you can talk about what they think would be helpful. When kids feel validated and empowered it helps build their confidence.

Here are some other tips to help start the year off on a positive note:

  1. Begin to move bedtime to the desired school time by 15-20 minutes each day if you have let them stay up later during the summer.
  2. Talk about what the bedtime routine and morning routine will look like. Discuss the plan and practice it before the first day of school so things go smoothly that first day.
  3. Utilize a picture schedule to help young children 1.5 years to 8 years know the plan. You can take pictures of them doing the activities, cut pictures out of magazines or print them from the internet. There are many free resources that can be downloaded and printed at home.
  4. Let them help shop for school supplies and picking out a backpack and lunchbox. These can be very important to your child.
  5. If your child will be taking lunches to school. Talk about lunch ideas and healthy snacks that are nut free – many schools require snacks to be nut free so check with yours to be sure. Consider making fruit a morning snack to minimize all the carbohydrates and sugar that come in prepackaged snack foods. Make sure they can handle all containers on their own so they can be independent.
  6. When talking about school, take the focus off of ‘being good’ but make your conversations about how it is ok to try new things and make mistakes, that they may have to work extra hard to learn something new and that it is most important to be kind and respectful to others. Take the emphasis off of making the perfect art project or getting all the spelling words right. Instead, focus and comment on your child’s effort and thought process.

Compassion, kindness, curiosity, perseverance and resiliency are the skills that build a foundation for life.

Many parents want to know everything that happened when their child was away from them and then are very frustrated when their children do not tell them anything! This is pretty typical, but you can increase your odds of not getting the standard “fine” or “nothing” answers by asking more specific open-ended questions. Try some of the following conversation-starters from Scholastic to get your child talking. Keep in mind that if you have an introverted child they may need some quiet, alone time after school before they are willing to talk.

  • Tell me about the best part of your day.
  • What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
  • Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
  • Tell me about what you read in class.
  • Who did you play or sit with today? What did you play?
  • Do you think math [or any subject] is too easy or too hard?
  • What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
  • What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they’re fair?
  • Can you show me something you learned or did today?

My final thought is to check your own feelings about school. Sometimes we transfer our own worries, doubts and insecurities to our children when they are not even on their radar. Be encouraging and supportive and allow your children to find their own way!

If you would like support as you transition back into school, please feel free to connect with me!

“There are two lasting bequest we can give our children:
One is roots and the other is wings.”
~ Hodding Carter ~