This week is a time when many children and teens are anxious about returning to the classroom, being assigned homework, taking tests and meeting new friends. Whether excited to be returning, or wishing time would stand still, the beginning of a new school year impacts many.
We often forget that social-emotional learning is just as important as meeting physical needs. Ensuring that a child’s emotional needs are met can feel like a 24/7 job that puts a lot of responsibility on the caregiver. Here is some simple advice on how to tackle the back-to-school jitters.
Get into a routine
Don’t wait until the first day of school to be prepared. Decide where to place backpacks, school supplies, lunch boxes and school shoes. Time spent ahead on these tasks – while taking the your child or teen’s input into the decision making, will hopefully help expedite the morning dash.
Set a sleep schedule
Many families tend to stay up late enjoying the beautiful summer evenings and tend to disregard the quickly approaching need for children to get enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours each evening, and start moving bedtimes accordingly. Hectic lifestyles often cut into sleep time, but sleep is a very important process for the body to heal, restore and grow.
Stay engaged and open-minded
Just as you look at your child and are constantly startled by their growth and development, their classmates are experiencing these same stages. Friends may change – developing different likes or interests. New friendships will be evolving and it is important that you stay engaged with your child’s circle. Ask questions, offer rides home for friends, if possible, and meet their parents or caregivers. Stay interested in your child’s friends.
Teach time management
Time management is a life-long lesson that needs constant attention. Stephen Covey’s tactic of put first things first does work. Help your child prioritize school demands. What is often labeled procrastination is simply teens underestimating the time it will take to complete a project, paper or homework assignment. Discuss different scenarios and set reasonable timelines for accomplishing tasks to help your child understand that quality work cannot always be produced overnight.
Make a plan
Many schools require and provide each student with a planner and may even place importance on the planner being signed daily. Assist your child by getting into the habit of talking about their planner, signing it as requested by the teacher and offering suggestions as you see appropriate.
High school students, who tend to have the busiest schedules may no longer receive a planner. Consider having your teen choose their own planner, in store or online, in order to keep up with project deadlines, dual enrollment classes, and after school commitments.
Ask for input
One quick tip that must be mentioned is the need – if at all possible – of allowing your child to participate in the selection of school supplies. Just as many adults favor a certain type of pen, paper, or Post-It note, children and teens would also like a choice. Remember, they will be utilizing these supplies almost every day.
Hopefully these tips will help ease back to school jitters and provide some calm throughout the household.