By Jessica Santos, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern
The summer just ended and here is that time of the year again, back to school. Here are four strategies that can help you and your children transition into school mode. Use praise, understanding, and some structure to smooth their back-to-school transition.
1) Validation – many kids and teenagers haven’t been in school in person for more than a year. Some are eager to go back, while others might be hesitant about it. For these students remote learning was a break from social pressures, learning challenges, and other classroom stressors. Change is hard and reminding our children that it’s ok to feel nervous about it helps normalize the experience for them. It is important for them to know that there are not alone.
2) Establish a routine – back to school is about change and as you and your children transition to a new routine, make sure you talk to them about what the new routine will look like. Making your children participate in creating their routines will help them ease their transition since they will know what to expect. Creating a routine will also help you remember what comes next. When creating your routine make sure you set clear and specific steps. If it is easy to follow it will be easier for them to remember. Be creative! Using pictures and charts will help your child engage since provides a visual guide for them to know what to do next. And most important, don’t forget to praise! When you recognize your child’s efforts and achievements, it builds their motivation and self-esteem.
3) Homework – like their morning routine, children need a structure that can help them complete their homework. Completing homework immediately after school seems ideal, but let’s be real, after eight hours of school (morning, bus, school, bus, home), they need a little something to ease them into homework. Snacks are a great way to keep your children’s energy up while working on homework. And again, don’t forget the positive feedback! Let them know you recognized their efforts, especially with that difficult subject (Did someone say math?).
4) Bedtime – bedtime is the hardest transition when it comes to starting school. Children get used to a more flexible routine, going to sleep, or waking up later during the summer. As with the morning routine, set a structure at night with clear expectations and step-by-step instructions and praise the completion of each step. Don’t forget the visual reminders. It is important to set time limits for electronics. This will not only create a better structure, but also help by setting appropriate boundaries for them.
The first weeks back to school may be difficult for your children, and for you. Be patient. Grades are important, but their ability to simply return to the classroom, connect with their teachers and peers, and get through each day is even more important. The goal needs to be to help your children feel confident and empowered in their abilities to learn and function; in other words, to maximize their resilience.
If you are struggling in any of these areas, the counselors at Total Health Guidance are here to help. Feel free to call us at 321-332-6984 to schedule a free consultation.