Going Back to School
It’s that time of year again. School supply lists are in stores and back to school sales are being advertised. Teacher assignments are in the mail and students are learning their new schedules. Summer is nearly over and the new school year is about to start. All of this means lots of excitement and for many children (not to mention, parents!), stress.
Children do experience stress, especially during times of transition which includes the start of a new school year. Although there is much excitement for what the new school year may bring, there is often some anxiety about the unknown. There also is stress that comes from the adjustments that need to be made with a new schedule.
As a parent, we can’t control many aspects of the school year. What we can manage, however, is how we can help our child(ren) manage this adjustment. Here are a few tips to help a child make an easier transition to the school year and manage any stress that may come along.
Be Proactive Before the School Year Starts
As a parent, we know that the new school year will bring many changes to our lives and schedule. Try to prepare as much as possible. Also, let your child know ahead of time the new routines and any new expectations. By being prepared and proactive, this can help reduce some of the stress that comes along with any new change.
Make Sleep a Priority
A tired child is more likely to have fewer reserves to cope with the challenges that they will face at the beginning of a school year. Make sure your child is getting adequate sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children up to the third grade need up to 12 hours of sleep, while high school students need 8 to 10.
Ease into the New School Year
Many children have additional activities after school such as sports, music, or drama. If possible, gradually ease into any extra activities and if possible, wait until the first few weeks of school are over before additional activities are added. This will allow your child some time to adjust and allow you as a parent to gauge their energy levels to determine what, if any, extra activities should be added.
Be a Good Role Model
Parents experience back to school stress as well. As a parent, make sure you are taking good care of yourself as managing your stress in healthy ways such as exercising, talking to others and relaxing. When you have a stressful day, you can role model to your child how you are managing your own stress.
Recognize the Signs of Stress
Not all children express stress the same way. Some will have somatic complaints such as headaches and stomachaches. Other children may become more irritable, while others are more withdrawn. Learn to recognize the individual signs your child may demonstrate and intervene early when they are showing signs. Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about stress and check in with them often on how they are feeling.
Many children adjust to school after a few weeks. If your child continues to have difficulty adjusting to the new routine or is demonstrating signs of stress, reach out to a health professional for more help.