by Jen Reisinger, MA, LMHC,
Back-to-school excitement? Back-to-school butterflies? Back-to-school dread? Returning to school after an action-packed summer can bring up some big feelings! Here are some tips for easing into the new school year:
Open up the conversation. If you haven’t already, check in with your student about the upcoming school year. Whether your student is a youngster joining a preschool class or a seasoned middle school student (or anywhere inbetween!), your child will have thoughts! For young students remember that you can use drawing and play to learn about how your child imagines school might be. For older students, you might ask “What are you most looking forward to in school this year?” “What worries you?” or “What do you hope is different this year from last?”
Prepare! Children thrive when they feel confident that they know what to expect and that they have what they need to be successful. Read books about going to school, practice routines, try on uniforms, visit the campus, even come up with a few icebreaker questions students can ask if they’re feeling shy.
- Don’t forget the importance of sleep. Now is the time to start adjusting bedtimes to help make sure your student wakes for school feeling recharged. Limit screen time in the hours leading up to bed and consider keeping screens out of bedrooms in the evenings.
- Get connected. It can be helpful to connect your student with a buddy if they’re feeling nervous about coming on the first day. Can you carpool with a friend? Make plans to meet up on the patio with a classmate? You might also consider connecting with your student’s classroom teacher or with me, the school counselor, for bigger worries that require a bit of extra support and care.
- Relax and smile! Your child looks to you for how to react in new situations. You have the opportunity to model being cool, calm, and collected. Not sure about how to do something? Let your child watch you ask for help! What a great lesson. Notice your child feeling worried or sad about the end of summer? Acknowledge that all feelings are okay and consider setting some goals or creating an inspirational motto for the year. Smile and know that it’ll be a great school year.