School is Starting Soon. Set Your Child Up for Success
The lazy days of summer are winding down. The trips to the beach, hikes in the woods, splashing in the pools, staying up later for bonfires, and catching fireflies are nearing the end, and the school year will be here before you know it. Every household is different; some families stick to a schedule and routine, while others through it out entirely and fly by the seat of their pants. As a new school year begins, children can feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, or excited. As parents, caretakers, and guardians, it’s your job to help set your child/children up for success.
Some families are sad to see the summer winding down, while others are ready to get back to the routines that accompany the school year. How well our children cope with the transition from summer to school can depend slightly on our outward emotions about them starting school. However, in saying that, even if you are showing excitement and ramping up the school year, some children still struggle with anxiety about going back to school.
Back to School Supplies
One thing to start thinking about is what supplies your child needs. Your child’s teacher or school may have sent the school schedule and supplies needed. Back-to-school shopping with a backpack full of pens, pencils, markers, index cards, highlighters, calculators, and protractors can help your child get into the back-to-school mindset. School clothes shopping and new shoes may prepare them for the first days of school, and they find themselves getting excited about what the school year brings. It also helps to have a bag of coping skills as well. Some fidgets, calming jars, and social-emotional items can assist them when they become anxious. However, please talk with your child’s teacher about their fidget policy. Some teacher’s welcome fidgets, while others may feel they are distracting.
Create Routines for Constancy
Another way to set your child up for success is to start getting into that schedule and routine now so they aren’t tired and moody when their schedule changes for fall. Set a bedtime and wake time close to what they would have during the school year. Regular routines help to manage emotions. Incorporating some learning time into your summer days will help them switch their mindsets and prepare them for school. Adding exercise, personal time, playtime, and sleep time into their schedule is also suitable for creating predictability and consistency.
Talk to Your Child About Their Emotions.
Have a powwow with your child to see how they feel about the upcoming school year. Ask them about their expectations, anxieties, and hopes for the school year. Sit down together to make a game plan to help them find success and eliminate or decrease some worries. Let your child know you are here to support him/her/them and are happy to listen anytime they need an ear. Find ways to check in with their emotions daily, and remember the car is an excellent place to communicate.
If your child has a 504 or IEP, check in with your child’s teacher or education team to see if there are any reminders you could give your child about their plan before the start of the school year. Talk to the teacher/teachers to ensure they have received the copy of the plan and what you can do to help set your child up for success. Let your child’s teacher know you are there, but don’t be overbearing; remember, teachers are busy and happy to talk with you but respect their boundaries as they will respect yours. Sometimes over the summer, new things have arisen, and there may be things that the education team may need to know in case they need to make an addendum to your child’s plan. Teach your child to advocate for themselves as well. Remember, you won’t always be there to hold their hands, so teaching them to be their voice at a young age is a good idea.
Take Time For Family Fun and Self Care
At the start of the school year, life can get busy. Extracurriculars, homework, housework, and meals can make life crazy and hectic. Remember that it’s vital to carve fun into your week along with self-care. You or your child can’t run on empty, so taking time to recharge and reboot is essential. Find things you like to do together, go on walks, do puzzles or games, and find a movie to watch. Family time is as important as academics, sports, extracurriculars, and time with friends. Promote self-care at a young age so that when they become adults, they won’t need to learn the importance of taking time to do the things they love. Life is about balance; find what works best for you and your family. If something isn’t working and you feel enough balance, go back to the drawing board to see what will work. Your children will fly the coop in the blink of an eye; enjoy every moment you can.