Fall means that summer temperatures begin to drop, leaves start to change color and school is in full swing. The onset of a new school year is exciting for some kids as they settle back in to school, reunite with friends and resume learning. For other kids, a new school year may evoke less desirable feelings, such as anxiety about the year to come. As parents and caregivers, it is important to be aware of how your child experiences that transition back to school and the pressures they experience throughout the year, in order to support them and set them up for success.
1) Attend Open House, parent-teacher conferences and other school events. These opportunities provide the opportunity to form a relationship with your child’s teacher and other adults that interact with your child on a daily basis. This effort is also a way to lead by example. This action demonstrates your commitment to the school and investment in your kid’s education.
2) Have an open dialogue with your kids about school. Make sure your kids know that they can talk to you about the good, as well as the bad, regarding school.
3) Validate any feelings of frustration, dislike, sadness or worry they might have. Kids need to know that their feelings are normal and they will get through this.
4) Remind them that other kids feel the same way and that adjusting to a new year, as well as maintaining rigor, can be hard, but that we adapt and persevere.
5) Provide examples of other instances that your son/daughter demonstrated persistence. Reminding kids of their success in difficult times helps them become more resilient, giving them the “I can do it” attitude.
6) Expect some ebb and flow of emotions. Kids may change their mind about school by the day, hour or even minute! This may indicate excitement surrounding areas of confidence and success, as well as those aspects of school that trigger anxiety or dislike.
7) Help your child to acknowledge the positives and problem solve surrounding the negatives. For example, if your child is concerned about keeping up in math, brainstorm some solutions, such as, relying on the on the skills they already have, asking their teacher for help and working on homework together.
8) Involve your kids in signing up for extra-curricular or social activities. Extracurricular activities can provide a great opportunity for further learning, enjoyment and character development, if you child wants to be there. When kids feel that they had a role in the decision making process, they may present with increased dedication. By soliciting their input in activities, kids may experience an increased sense of control over the situation. When extracurricular activities are school-sponsored or engage kids your children see at school, they provide an additional opportunity to form a positive connection to school.
Kids at the elementary age need to explore which activities they enjoy and have success. Allow them these opportunities without “over scheduling” them where they resent not being able to have downtime to play with friends.
Good luck! Have a great school year!