Back to School: Getting in the Groove
A new school year is exciting, but with continued
warm weather and memories of summer fun, children may resist getting back into the
"groove" of school schedules. Parents, as well, may feel harried with making
changes in work and daycare schedules to fit the change in seasons.
Here are some helpful tips for families to avoid the "back to school blues"
and get back into the swing of the school season:
the changes that will occur. These may include earlier bed times and wake up times,
getting things ready for the next day the night before, and setting aside time each
evening to do homework, and other chores. It may help to get a dry erase calendar and
write the changes down.
Reassure small children (and maybe even provide rewards after the first week of
school) to let them know that you are aware that the changes may be difficult and you
support your childs efforts. Sticker sheets work well for small children, while lots
of verbal "pats on the back" help middle and high school age students.
Time with friends becomes limited when school starts, so it may be helpful to work
out times with your children when they can have friends over that are suitable to both
Transitions are harder for some children. Be a good listener and hear your
childs concerns about school, friends and teachers, with an open mind. Provide
reassurance. Spend extra time talking with your child about their school day, and help
them organize books, homework and school supplies.
Give daytime phone numbers to both the school and your child so that they can reach
you if needed.
If your child is entering a new school, or is sensitive to changes, visit with his or her teacher after the first few
weeks of school to insure the transition is going well.
Children need lots of energy for school. Make sure your child gets a healthy
breakfast and a lunch that they will eat without complaints, so that he or she remains
alert throughout the day. A healthy after-school snack will also help to hold off junk
food consumption until dinner.
Even though children work all day at school, they need structure at home. Play time
is a good way to help them unwind. Having small chores, as well as having a set time to do
homework in the evenings maintains structure and encourages responsible behaviors in your
child. When kids get bored, they easily get caught up in watching television or playing
hours of video games.
Extracurricular activities are important for your child. Seek some activities that
are interesting and fun. Encourage your child to try new things, but dont pile on
too many activities as your child may become overwhelmed.
sit down with your children in a "family meeting"
The start of a new school year can bring challenges and positive changes for you and
your family. These suggestions can help you to help your child have a positive school
experience. Good luck with the new school year!
This article was written by Monica L. Rekiel, MA, LPC, a therapist with the Western
Montana Mental Health Center and the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program at Missoula
County Public Schools.