by Liza Ibrahim, LPC
Summer is still in full swing with a few weeks left to enjoy the sun, family vacations, and the outdoors, but starting off a new school year can be stressful for both the student and parents. It can bring a mixture of emotions including anticipation, excitement, and worry. Every family can start the school year off smoothly. Here are some suggestions that will help you navigate through this often hectic time:
Have Open Conversations With Your Child About Their Hopes For The School Year
You can begin setting up your child for a successful school year by keeping the lines of communication open- start a conversation with your child about what they hope to accomplish this school year. What are their goals for the year? What are their hopes and fears about starting a new grade? What are they most excited about?
Make Early And Frequent Contact With Your Child’s Teacher
Don’t be afraid to send an email if you have a question or concern, or just send a note to say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself. Ask how you can support classroom learning at home and about parent/school involvement. Another great way to develop a student/teacher connection is by having your child write a “Hello Teacher Note” before the school year starts (can be used as an introduction).
Get To Know Your Child’s Friends
Plan a weekend playdate and make a snack together, play a game together, or pull out a craft to do together. Get to know your child’s friends and be mindful of how everyone interacts.
Encourage student-teacher communication
Encourage your child to advocate for themselves and allow them to gain confidence by talking directly with their teachers. Encourage your child to learn the skills to approach a teacher and ask questions, ask for help, turn in late work, or anything else they may need help with or want to share.
Balance independence and support
Remind your child that they are there for them, if and when they need you. This allows your child the opportunity to seek help, if and when they need it. Having a balance of letting them know that their parents are there to listen and to support them is essential so that students can grow and have a successful school year.
Get your child involved in an extracurricular activity
Sign up your child for an afterschool activity, whether it’s a community sport, a craft club, a scouting group, or a youth group, it doesn’t matter. If an extra-curricular is not in the budget, make it a goal to attend a free event at the library, church, or in the community several times a month.
Develop a structure and daily routine
Introduce the new daily routine to your child several days before school begins, including bedtime, time to wake up, some sitting activities and outdoor play time. Coordinate a school tour and visit the school together a few days before the new school year. Reach out to your child’s teacher a week prior to the first day of school to ask any questions or share any concerns specific to your child.
Set homework and school year goals with your child
Create a Homework Agreement and decide together when homework will be worked on. For how long? Where? Type it up and display it. When kids understand the expectations clearly, that there is a set time and rules and consistency, they will actually be more likely to do their homework with less fuss.
By using these suggested techniques, your child may feel better equipped in managing the new school year. It’s important to acknowledge that each child is their own individual and sometimes transitions can be challenging. As parents, we want to be as supportive as possible in helping our children learn and grow!