Going back to school can be exciting, but also nerve wracking for children and their parents. Here are a few suggestions to make the transition back to school easier on your family.
Often having a plan and knowing what to expect can reduce everyone’s stress level. You know your child the best, so please tailor the suggestions to fit your child’s needs.
Help your child get back on a school-type schedule. The last two weeks before they begin, start waking them earlier and earlier until they are getting up at the time they will need to for school. This may not be difficult for younger children who are up early anyway, but it can be a challenge for pre-teens and teens, so have patience.
You may also want to start feeding them at the times they will eat at school, so they are able to get the most out of their snack and lunch times.
Logistics and school staff
Familiarize them with their school, bus stop, and pick up time. Attend the Open House, especially if it is the first year at that school. Discover where the office, gym, cafeteria and bus pick-up spots are.
Try to meet the teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, deans and principal. If your child takes medication, be sure to stop in and meet the health office staff as well. School staff generally start the week before the children do, so you may be able to make an appointment to meet staff during that week.
Get any paperwork ready that they may need. This may be immunization records that you can get from your doctor or clinic, sports physicals, medication permission from their doctor, or legal guardianship paperwork if it is unusual.
Get needed school supplies. Often, schools will have sent the list of needed supplies to you in the mail with other necessary information. You may also find it on the school’s website. If you do not have access to a computer, Northpoint Inc. (612-767-9500) has a computer room, as do public libraries.
Some stores also have the lists available. For instance, Target often has the supply list posted for area schools. If you are involved with a social service agency or church, they may provide free school supplies. You may also try Kids in Need (612-465-0135), Salvation Army (651-746-3400), or Simon Says Give (1-888-470-7523).
Set up a space for your children to study and keep their school things. If this is done in advance, they will be able to start the first week sticking to the homework and activity schedule you have planned together. It will also help them to stay organized and get things set up for the next day so they can leave for school calmly.
Try to find a space that is quiet, away from distractions like the television, and has the necessary supplies right there, like pencils, calculators and paper. Help them get in the habit of putting their school things there each night.
Get their clothes, uniforms, gym shoes, and backpacks ready the night before. Put them in the same spot so they can relax about it. This will help in the morning so that everyone can leave peacefully to start their day.
Pick out outfits in advance as well. Younger children may need more help laying out their clothes, but you will know your child’s capabilities best.
Encourage your children to eat healthy food or snacks. Focus on proteins such as cheese or yogurt and whole fruits and vegetables. This will help their brain focus and take in new information. Although caffeine and sugar can help people focus in the short term, too much sugar or carbohydrates will make them tired and jittery, and it will be harder for them to concentrate.
Discuss anything that your child thinks might be a problem, like bullies or getting lost or how they’ll do in their worst subject. Remind them of what went well last year, such as which classes they did well in, how many friends they made last year, or which friends they will see when school starts.
Help them plan for any anxiety-producing things that might be coming up. This will depend on your children’s particular concerns.
Hopefully, this information will help you and your students get a head start on a great year.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, these resources are available: Child Crisis Team, 612-348-2233; Adult Crisis Team (COPE), 612-596-1223; Acute Psychiatric Services (APS) (HCMC), 612-873-3161; Suicide Prevention Hotline, 612-873-2222; Emergency, 911.
If you are interested in learning more about the mental health services at NorthPoint Health and Wellness, call Dr. D.A. Golden at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Clinic, 612-543-2705.