Back to school: How you can help prepare your child
August 17, 2018
It’s that time of year again!
From shopping for school supplies and new indoor shoes, to squeezing in those last few summer adventures before the fall routine sets in, parents are busy getting their children ready for the upcoming school year.
Although going back to school is a very exciting time, we also know it can be a time of increased stress, anxiety and behavioural concerns for both students and their families. So, we wanted to reach out with some tips and tools that can be used at home during this transitional period. School success starts at home and we're here to help!
Here is a quick list of things to try with your child:
Keep routine as consistent as possible. By keeping a predictable and consistent routine, your child will be well rested and more able to take on the stresses that a new school year brings.
Get them to help you create this new routine. When your children take an active role in deciding what happens to them, they are more likely to want to follow through with the plan. This can work by focusing on the details, such as what they will they eat for breakfast, what kinds of snacks they want to bring to school and what they will wear. Depending on your child’s needs, it may be helpful to create a list of positive, healthy and safe options for them to choose from.
Use visuals. For those of our students with developmental or language delays, the use of visuals is key for establishing routine and reducing anxiety. Helping your child create a visual story for new and potentially stressful situations can allow them to feel confident and grounded, even before they begin school.
Let them talk. Your child’s routine should also include regular ‘check-ins’. These will not only help your child feel heard, but will also ease your own anxiety about how they’re doing at school. These check-ins should include some reflection on the positives, as it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the changes and challenges. Your child may need your help to take a step back and see all of the potential a new school year brings as well.
Attendance is key. Worries, anxiety and fear can manifest in many different ways. This may look like defiance, emotional distress and even physical illness. As experts on your child, it is important for parents and caregivers to try and see beyond the behavior. If school-based fears or social anxiety are causing these behaviours, the best thing for them to do is to go to school. Exposure, practice and consistency will work to gradually ease those tensions, and will allow them to experience all of the fun and entertaining elements of school as well.
The last thing we would like to talk about is the importance of self-care for parents and caregivers. We know that, as the people who love and care for your children, their fears become your own. Letting go and trusting that they will be cared for while away from you can be one the biggest challenges for families. This can express itself in many different ways and, because children are often very tuned into the emotions and feelings of their caregivers, it is important to focus on the positives as much as possible – even when you may have cause for concern. Whether it is a relaxing dinner with friends, taking a long walk, reading a book or treating yourself to that totally unnecessary purchase you’ve been eyeing for the past few months, do what you need to do to recharge your batteries. When parents are healthy, relaxed and feeling positive, they are setting a great example of how to approach new situations.
If your concerns aren’t decreasing as the school year goes on or you become faced with new ones, reach out to the school. Open lines of communication between school and home can be integral to your child’s success.
We know your child will achieve great things this year and can’t wait to celebrate them with your family.