GETTING READY FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR
A new school year lies ahead of us. It is both an exciting and dreading moment at the same time. It is definitely a big transition that all children experience every year. Children who start school for the first time or who go to a new school face the biggest adjustments. Even just moving up a grade requires to get used to a new teacher, changing social circle, and having more academic demands. However, with some preparation and forethought, children can get ready for the big day.
Here are a few strategies to help her:
1. Have conversations about the next school and/or grade before the first day of school. Prepare your child by telling her what she can expect, including playground, snack, reading, computers, music, and art classes. Share your own stories about what you loved at school when you were a child.
2. Get your child back on an early bedtime several days before school starts. Since most children stay up late in the summer months, they can sleep in late in the morning. However, they will not be able to keep the same schedule once school starts. So, make sure your child has enough sleep (between 9.5 and 11 hours depending on her age and individual physiology) by moving bedtime a bit earlier every night a week before school starts.
3. Involve your child in the process of getting back to school. For instance, let her choose her own school supplies either from home or from a store and let her put them in her backpack. Discuss with her a few options she can have for a healthy snack and lunch. Similarly, let her choose her clothes or give her a few options. The more your child will feel in charge, the less she will be nervous/anxious for the big day.
4. The day before school starts, tell exactly your child what will happen. It will give her a comfortable mental representation of what to expect. The unknown is what makes her nervous/anxious. So, by describing her what to expect the big day, it will help her relieve the potential stress.
5. When saying goodbye, your child may feel teary. Then, reassure her she will be fine and that you cannot wait to see her at the end of the day. Your child needs to be left with a new person she can attach to, such as a teacher or a teacher’s aide. Your child’s tears should not last long. In case they do, make sure to talk to the teacher so that you can elaborate a strategy to help your child handle this transition.
Before school starts or even the first days of school, your child may experience some unusual meltdowns. Be sure to be present emotionally for your child and to normalize her emotions. With time and patience, your child will quickly adjust to her new routine.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.