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It’s Back to School Time

September 12, 2016  |  Comments Off on It’s Back to School Time

Heading back to school can be a time of great excitement for kids and parents. Getting new school supplies, wearing a new outfit or pair of shoes is fun. But along with all the excitement, there is often a great deal of stress.

When kids head back to school, they have to manage meeting new teachers and classmates, adjusting to classroom expectations, and learning new information. In fact, school is often the most challenging part of a child’s day because it requires all their skills…social, self-regulation, and thinking skills to be successful. Children who struggle more than most with one or more of these skills can find school a pretty tough place.

What can you do to help make the transition back to school as smooth as possible? Here are some tips from Alexander’s Clinical Director.

  1. Leave as little as possible to the unknown. If your child is anxious or negative about the start of school, plan a few trips to school before the first day. Ask for a quick, private introduction to the new teacher, volunteer to get classrooms ready, or check out some of the topics to be covered during the year.  The more exposure your child has to their teacher and classroom before school starts, the less anxious they are likely to be.
  1. Take it one step at a time. The first few weeks of school are really about getting back into the routine, so focus on sleep and wake times, getting out the door on time, and remembering to pack needed items for school. Keeping the same routine everyday will make this easier to master. At the end of the first week assess what worked and what didn’t. Maybe your child needs to wake up a few minutes earlier to get ready for school or to put all her things by the front door in the evening. Maybe keeping a school survival box in your car or at the front door is what you need. Fill your survival box with granola bars, lunch money, sharpened pencils, an extra set of gym clothes or whatever it is that your child seems to forget on a regular basis. Once the morning routine is going smoothly, take on another task such as the homework routine.  Follow the same process, make a plan, try it out for a week or so, assess whether or not your plan needs tweaking.
  1. Be realistic. We place more and more demands on our young people every year. At times, it seems we have forgotten what we can reasonably expect from children at each stage of development. If your child’s work load or a particular assignment seems way beyond what he can manage, help him to set his own goals. Maybe together you decide to complete 4 parts of a 5 part project and accept the lower grade this time.
  1. Know your child. Every child learns differently and needs different things to be successful at school. Some kids study best in the middle of all the family action, while others need a quiet space. Some kids need a break before starting homework, while others need to get it finished right away. There are lots of ways to be successful at schoolwork, give your child a chance to try different things in order to figure out what is best for her.
  1. Call in the troops. If your child is really struggling with the start of the new school year, let someone at school know quickly. Ask for a meeting with your child’s new teacher or the school counselor. Letting school staff know that your child is struggling and what you think might help, can prevent months of stress.

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