Transitions can be tough, no matter how old or well-adjusted we think we are; so as you wind down the summer and prepare your student for the first day back to school … we thought we’d give you a few tips to help ease the way.
We all remember how exciting and nerve wracking starting a new school was; whether it’s elementary to middle school or junior high to high school, it can be very overwhelming! For so many kids, this is a big leap in maturity. As kids become more independent, they also tend to pull away from parents/guardians, and as frustrating as that is, it’s very normal and healthy. And many boys and girls are starting to enter puberty (or are well on their way); that in and of itself, can be very confusing. Then you mix all those hormones, with a new school, new people to meet, old friends to share, while you are trying to figure out who you are and what you want to be when you grow up … it can be daunting for all those involved.
Here are a few tips to help!
- Get Acquainted: For some, moving to a new campus brings out feelings of anxiety or fear about where to go and how to get from class to class. Helping your student become familiar, can alleviate some of that extra anxiety. TIPS: Obtain a map of the campus, make an appointment to take a tour, find out the passing time between classes, if you have his/her schedule before the first day…walk from class to class so they get the feel for the eventual routine. Empower them to ask for directions if they get lost (great lesson for later in life!) … and remind them, that everyone gets first day jitters!
- Get Social: “Will I fit in? Will they like me? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if I don’t make any friends?” All very normal questions for any young person to ask or worry about. At a new school, even with old friendships, they will be exposed to a lot more kids than they are used to and with many new opportunities for expanded social circles – that can be quite intimidating for some kids. TIPS: Ask your student what traits make a good friend? Help them identify the kind of friend they want to be, and the types of friends they want to have. Encourage them to participate in conversations, to ask questions, and don’t forget to discuss the importance of eye contact while talking and listening to others. Practice the skills needed for potentially difficult social settings (cafeteria, gym class, bus ride, etc.). Help your student explore different clubs and activities on campus or after-school. Getting involved in school based programs, helps them feel vested and connected to their academic success and social acceptance.
- Get Educated: After your student makes a few friends and knows what class to go to, the next concern that typically pops up, is that of academics. “Will these classes be too hard for me? Am I going to be able to manage all the homework? What if my teacher is a tough grader?” Again, all normal and healthy questions for them to be asking and for you to help manage. TIPS: Getting organized is an important component to managing one’s time. Help your student prioritize their day to include: homework, exercise/sports, religion, friends, family, healthy diet and sleep; not feeling overwhelmed helps alleviate unnecessary stress. Designate reading/study areas, that are quiet and focused. Empower your student to talk with their teachers if they need help or have concerns. Stay connected to your student’s school/teacher, know what projects are coming up and add them to the family calendar, attend back to school night, open house, etc. Initiate study groups, or study along with your student. You making your student’s education important, helps them make it important.
School plays such an integral role in all of our lives, it’s where we spend so much of our time, and where we learn about ourselves and the world around us. We know how important a healthy, happy, safe, and incident free school experience can make for a successful future. We also know, that school can be a hard place for some to endure; those who may struggle with learning disabilities, bullying, lack of interest or motivation, loneliness and isolation. TIPS: Remain positive, encouraging and keep the lines of communication open at all times. Stay connected!! Stay involved!! Form a relationship with the school administrators, teachers, counselors. Know your students classes, their schedule, their assignments. Establish strong habits, set good boundaries, be consistent and flexible. Set good examples; if you call in sick to work a lot or if you are perpetually late … chances are your student will emulate those same traits. Get involved with community events, school activities, be a leader, be a volunteer, participate; these behaviors show your student strong leadership and the element of “team”. Get your student talking and be open to hear what they have to say. And no matter what, validate their feelings, even if you don’t agree (another great lesson for later in life). And if you need extra help or your student needs additional support on campus, make sure you speak to a teacher or counselor, who will assuredly have a ton of resources or suggestions available.
Good Luck and have a great school year!!