For many parents, “back to school” means getting kids who have gone stir-crazy most of the summer out of the house and back into learning mode. August is often a time of school supplies and clothes shopping. Do not miss this opportunity to take time to invest in your child’s transition to set the new year off to a smooth start. Here are four ways to begin preparation for a new school year:
- Create a Routine. Most children take on a new sleep schedule during summer. Late nights and sleeping all morning become the norm, but this will be a struggle to conquer on the first day of school with no preparation. Starting at least two weeks before the first day of school, implement a bedtime that is earlier than “summer curfew” but later than school bed time. For example, if your child goes to bed at 8pm during the school year but has been staying up until 11pm during summer, start with a 10:30pm bedtime and waking them up at 9am. After a few days, move bedtime to 10pm and wake up to 8:30am. Continue this until your child is on a school-friendly schedule. Getting adequate sleep is critical to health and school functioning.
- Ask about Friends. Many kids lose contact with friends during summer or may experience a shift in their social circle due to traveling, sports, or schedule differences. Ask your child how they feel about this and encourage them to reach out to a friend to spend time together before starting the new school year. Knowing there will be friends and familiar faces at school can help them look forward to beginning a new year.
- Clarify Expectations. New school years can mean other adjustments besides attending school. Perhaps your child will ride the bus for the first time this year or attend an after-school program. Possibly they are moving to a new school or will have homework, as they are getting older. Maybe you would like them to maintain a certain GPA. Having conversation with your child before the start of the year helps them know what to expect, what is expected of them, and allows time for questions and answers.
- Consider Mental Health Services. Is your child dreading school to the point of refusing to engage in the points listed above? Have you noticed mood or behavioral changes over the summer? Maybe there is a need to address stress and recent changes. It could be that your child needs a boost in confidence, an advocate or safe space to express themselves. Mental health services can equip your child and family with coping skills to adjust to the new school year. Therapy and case management can be provided in many school settings. Starting the conversation with CrossWinds is only one phone call away. Make your appointment today!
Dacey West, LMLP
CrossWinds Counseling and Wellness