The summer is over. Long carefree days of sun, beaches, and vacations are coming to a close. It’s not just a changing of the season. This time of year, as children head back to school, there is often a changing of mindset as well. This shifting mindset can bring some anxious moments for many children. Kids know that it’s time to get into a new routine, time to prepare for what lies ahead. But they are apprehensive and uncertain at this time of year. The good news is that you can help them through the first few weeks of this transition.
As teachers and parents, we want the best for our children. How can we ease their anxieties and fears at this critical time in their lives? What can we do to help them to focus and to think positively about the coming challenges? What are some things a typical child worries about as summer ends and school begins? What can we do to ease the transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer to a more formal, structured school environment?
Perhaps the most important support we can give our kids at this time of year is to simply listen to them. Give them opportunities to express their anxiety in positive ways. Most important of all, let our kids know that we understand what they are going through, their fears are real, and we are there to help them through the transition.
Many children will worry about whether they will have, or will be able to make, friends in their new classes. Perhaps for some, it will be their first time taking a bus to school. Some kids might worry about whether they will be smart enough to accept and prevail with the new challenges that a new school grade brings. No matter what the problem is, follow these simple bits of advice, and your child will enter the new academic year with confidence and a positive attitude towards learning.
Talk and support.
Talk, talk, talk. Listen, listen, listen. In most instances, simply doing this will be enough. Children are naturally fearful in new situations. Your goal should be to make it plain and clear that no matter the issue, they can always come to you to talk and you will always be there to listen. Seems simple, but professionals advise that this is the best thing we can do for our kids in all situations — be there for them.
Develop a plan.
Many kids feel safer and more comfortable in new situations if they have a plan of action. What to do if this or that happens in those first few weeks of a new school year. Talk with your kids about what to expect and help them to develop an action plan with real solutions. If your child is apprehensive about math in her new grade, for example, talk about what you and she can do together to help in this situation. Are there any resources you can acquire to ease your child’s anxiety? We here at DC Canada have a really good math series, Into Math with Imagination. Could these books help your child? Are there any remedial math sites on the web to which you can direct your child? The main thing is to have a plan — if this happens…we will do this.
Visit the school if possible.
Nothing will ease your child’s anxiety about school more than an actual visit to the school before the new year begins. If possible, arrange a school visit. Most teachers and staff are back in the school by the middle of August. Call and see if you can bring your child over, especially if it is the first time in this school for your child.
Set up some routines early.
The summer is a time of freedom for most kids. Bedtime is later, schedules are not adhered to. In the week leading up to the new school year, and for a couple of weeks after, help your child develop some routines. What is a good time to go to bed? When is it best to do my homework? How much time should I devote to studying and how much time do I have for recreational activities such as sports, TV, or the Internet?
Going back to school after the carefree summer days doesn’t have to be scary. Take the time to sit and talk with your children. Find out what’s on their mind and put in place a plan to support them as they grab their knapsacks and head out the door. It really is an exciting time of year.
Stay positive and smile, knowing you’ve done all you can to ensure a happy and safe transition.