Just a few short weeks and we will be back to school! Teachers, parents and caregivers are preparing for students to head back into the classroom and the help they provide will play an important role in the success of each student.
Here are six things you can do to help your child have a successful start to the school year:
1. Just Breathe
We’ve all been in a new situation and remember how difficult it can be. Remember, other kids and parents/caregivers are also going through the same thing. If anxiety sets in and you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to just breathe. Wherever you are, take a moment and do just that.
2. Talk About the Logistics
Transitioning back to school after summer can bring about some anxieties with schedule changes, new location and new faces. The best way to discuss how someone is feeling is to talk about it. Use open-ended questions such as “What are your top two concerns?” or “What are you most worried about?” This way, together you can discuss the worries and explore what the possible solutions may be. This may include looking through the school website, visiting the school at open houses, meeting the teachers, practicing opening their locker, and locating where the bathrooms and lunchrooms are.
3. Ease the Social Transition
The social scene may be an area of worry for some students. Will I see my friends? Where will I sit at lunch? Will I make new friends? To ease the social transition, encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities. Discuss social skills and what being a good friend means. For example, have a discussion on how actions and words affect others or how to handle difficult social situations.
4. Discuss Academic Concerns
Your child may have concerns about academics. How much homework will I have? Are the teachers tough graders? Will the classes be difficult? You can help ease academic concerns by meeting the teachers early in the school year to discuss your child’s strengths and any areas where they may need more attention. Develop ways for your child to manage time. Work collaboratively on a schedule that will include time to study, taking breaks and continue their household chores. Also, attend back-to-school events, parent-teacher conferences and other school events to connect with their teachers.
5. Promote Healthy Sleeping Habits
Getting enough sleep contributes to a child’s overall health and well-being. To stay focused and improve academic performance and concentration, a child should get adequate sleep. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids aged 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep and teens aged 13-18 need 8-10 hours of sleep.
You can promote healthy sleeping patterns by keeping a regular sleep schedule. Make it a family priority to get enough sleep. Set clear limits, such as turning off devices with lighted screens (cellphones, electronic games, computers) one hour prior to bed.
6. Let Someone Know
If your child needs some extra support, let someone know. There are a lot of different aspects to take into consideration when transitioning back to school. Be sure to be in contact with a teacher, aide or school counselor and let them know your child is excited and looking forward to school but also alert them to signs that they might need some assistance.
Going back to school can be overwhelming. Reassure your child that they will feel more comfortable as the school year progresses. Encourage your child and let them know that you, the teachers, and the school want them to be successful. Be sure to celebrate the good days. And if all else fails, tip No. 1 will still be there.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2022-2023 School Year!
Julie Aune is the Director of Social Services at Human Services Center. Julie is a Licensed Certified Social Worker and Qualified Mental Health Professional. The mission of the Human Services Center (HSC) is to provide individuals who are mentally ill or chemically dependent with effective, individualized professional treatment enabling them to achieve their highest level of personal independence in the most therapeutic environment. To read previous editions of the Mental Health Memo visit https://dss.sd.gov/keyresources/news.aspx#mhmemo.