Nervous about the upcomming start of the school year? Have no fear - our children's counselor, Megan Kowalchick, put together her top 5 tips for ensuring a smooth transition.
Start the year with a clean slate
No matter what happened last year, this is a whole new year to be successful. If your child struggled last year, work with them to set up necessary support systems in advance (i.e., a tutor for a difficult subject, taking the time to practice shooting the basketball with them after work, staying connected with friends they have made over the summer to continue in the development of social skills, sharing a successful positive behavioral management technique with their new teacher via email in advance, etc.). Doing this helps to quell anxieties a child may have carried over from the previous year, in addition to showing them acceptance of who they are regardless of what may have happened in the past.
2. Start that sleep schedule!
In order for the transition from Summer to Fall to go as smoothly as possible, it is important to start implementing the schedule that school entails at least two weeks before class begins. Gradually pull back bedtime by half hour increments until you reach the time that you would like them in bed during the school year. In addition, begin waking them in the same manner so that the early rising time come September isn’t so jarring to their bodies. This gradual change back to the school routine will help their bodies adjust at a normal pace, aid in more positive behavior, help develop a level of alertness necessary for school success from the very first day, and allow them to feel good both physically and mentally as they embark on a brand new school year.
3. Get Excited!
Enthusiasm is contagious. Speak with your child excitedly about their teacher, friends, classes, projects, and all of the new and exciting things that can and will happen this year. New opportunities await them as they mature and are given new responsibilities. Perhaps this is the year they will learn to tie their shoes, go to the mall with a group of friends sans parents, or be able to participate in the school play. Regardless of your child’s age, there are endless possibilities in store for this new school year! Show them that you are excited for the many milestones ahead, and support and encourage them in achieving them from the very start.
4. Let your child choose their style
Allow your child to accompany you for fun school shopping adventures and encourage them to choose things that display their unique style to the world. Let them choose the Cinderella backpack, allow them to put stickers of their favorite band on their colored notebooks, and encourage them to decide what they’d like to wear on the first day of school. It’s not always easy to let them pick the neon green leggings, but giving them a say in how they want to express themselves and supporting their decisions helps in the positive development of self-esteem and self-confidence!
5. Make a New School Year tradition
Whether it is cooking your child’s favorite dinner, dropping them off instead of having them take the bus, or taking a picture in the same spot on the first (and last!) day, have a tradition for the first day of school. Traditions allow for your child to recognize the importance that their lives have in your life. Even as they get older and roll their eyes while you have them stand next to the apple tree in the front yard on that first day of high school, traditions serve to show children that what they do MATTERS to you. And that no matter how much they grow and change, you value each stage they went through to become the person they are at that moment.
South Bay Wellness wishes your family a happy, healthy, and successful 2013-14 school year!
Megan Kowalchick is a Licensed Master Social Worker with a passion for improving the social and emotional wellness of children, youth, and their families. She believes that positive relationships are the key to success for people of all ages, and aims to aid in the development of such relationships in the lives of the people with whom she works. For more about Megan, visit her bio page at http://www.southbaywellness.com/OurTeam/MeganKowalchick.aspx