It’s almost that time again –
Time to return to school!
This can be a stressful time for both students and parents. Here are 3 quick things we can do to help make this transition go as smoothly as possible.
- Give advance notice. Let your child know what class they will be in. Show them a picture of their teacher or classroom or their school building on their school’s webpage. If this isn’t readily available or if your child may benefit from some additional support, perhaps drive by the school or arrange for an early tour before the school year starts. Knowing what to expect reduces the anxiety of the unknown which helps to reduce challenging behaviors.
- Make connections between similar experiences. If your child will be in the same classroom or have the same teacher or have some of the same kids in his/her class, let him/her know. You can also remind your child of other times when s/he was nervous and things went well. Or how a previous year s/he had a terrific first day of school. Being reminded of our previous successes, especially if they are similar to a transition coming up, can help boost our confidence.
- Practice calming skills. Teach your child a few calming skills. When we practice these skills when we are calm, it makes it more likely for us to be able to use them (and feel the benefit!) when we are distressed. Some examples can include deep breaths, a hand fidget, listening to music, drawing a picture, or doing some stretches.
- Connect. Validate your child’s experience. It’s normal to feel anxious or disappointed when the school year begins and things change. This helps your child feel heard and helps them put a name to more abstract concepts like emotions.
- “Sounds like you’re feeling nervous because you aren’t sure who will be in your class this year.”
- “You’re feeling disappointed because you like all the extra time with mom and dad over the summer”
Remember, you know your child best. If there’s something that you think might benefit him/her, give it a try!
I’d love to hear any other ways you’ve helped make the transition back to school easier for your family!