by Dr. Lisa Lenhart, Ph.D.; Child Psychologist
Getting ready for the new school year involves more than buying all the supplies needed. There is a transition from the slow paced summer months to the faster paced and more structured school year that can be hard for some children. Other children may begin to feel anxious or concerned about difficulties they experienced in the previous year. Helping to prepare your child at the beginning of the school year can make the adjustment smoother and easier for everyone involved. Here are the top 5 ways that parents can help their children prepare for the transition back to school.
1. Create a system for keeping track of all assignments and homework projects at the beginning of the school year, and follow up in the first few weeks of school to keep your child on track; once keeping track of the assignments has become more habitual, you can taper off on the frequency with which you check in on his/her use of the system.
2. Review your child’s class schedule with them to determine which classes will take more energy and work to be successful. Plan after school hours to include a schedule that includes more time for the difficult classes; decide whether it is best to tackle the easier subjects first and leave harder ones for last, or to devote time and energy up front to the harder subjects and leave the easier subjects for when your child has less energy.
3. Decide together what extracurricular activities will be most beneficial for your child, taking into account the course load. Sports, drama, art, and music are all great ways for your child to maintain physical and mental health, but too many activities can be a drain on your child. Finding the balance that is right for your child is key.
4. Problem solve with your child how they will handle situations that could arise this year that caused them problems in the previous year. If your child experienced difficulties interacting with peers, talk with them about how to approach other kids this year, how to establish new friendships, and how to handle conflict situations that might emerge. Role playing these strategies can be helpful in terms of increasing your child’s sense of confidence and competence when using the strategy at school.
5. Review the best way to approach a teacher with a question or concern. If your child has a harder time communicating with the teacher regarding questions about the material, or assignments that will be due, talk about the best way to approach the teacher. Role playing again can be helpful for practice what to say and how to say it.
Thinking ahead and preparing for the coming school year and how to address any concerns is a great way to start the school year off in a productive way!