It's that time of year again! Shopping lists for school supplies, purchasing new clothes, registration days and back to school nights are occupying a lot of families' time these days. And we all are enjoying the cute pictures of the first day of school on social media. But, back-to-school is not always a fun and exciting time for our kids heading back to the classroom. These first days back, and indeed many days throughout the year, are full of stress and frustration for our kids and often make our kids reluctant to get back into the swing of things and even resist going to school at all.
What's causing this refusal to run back to class with open arms? A few things to consider:
- Back-to-School is a huge time of transition. Kids are reverting to earlier wake-up times, more structured meals, interacting with new people, and losing a lot of freedom that comes with summer days.
- Stress and Anxiety are often at play when students are engaging with new teachers who they may not yet trust, are having awkward relationships with other kids, and encountering new academic content that may be intimidating.
- Teenagers, in particular, are prone to moods that shift more suddenly as they are managing changing hormones and dealing with more complex interpersonal relationships.
As family members, how can we help ease our kids back into school smoothly? Here are a few things to consider:
- Start early – Begin talking about school with your kids weeks before the school year starts. Begin shifting their sleep schedule back gradually to a time that more closely matches what the school year demands. Begin to get those snacks under control and menu items in place that will keep them energized and feeling good during the day.
- Focus on the positive – Discuss what some of the interesting topics they will encounter in classes this year, how interesting the teacher is, and known friends that will be at the same school or in the same class. Don't forget about extracurriculars! Is there a favorite coach that your son or daughter will be thrilled to see?
- Find an achievement to look forward to – Make a plan for what your family might do together at midterm. Is there a trip to celebrate the hard work the kids will be doing? A game or concert to attend? Remembering that fun still happens once school starts will ease the pain of transitioning back into the school year
- Watch for ongoing problems – Even when we do our best to help our kids enjoy their time in school, there may be additional factors impacting their happiness. Is there trouble focusing in class? Are there negative relationships with peers? Are there problems from home that seem to hamper the school experience? Sometimes, as parents, we need to seek outside help. Look at the resources provided by your school district and the valuable resources in your community. Early intervention can prevent further issues down the road.