Summer is winding down and the school year promises to be exciting and exhausting. No fear, there are teachable moments around every corner.
While in your car running to shop for new school clothes, point out highway signs. They are filled with words, beginning, middle and ending sounds, numbers and most of all important information to get you where you are going. The final destination could be the mall to shop for clothes. Again, use those signs and advertisements to prepare your child for what may be coming down the road….first, second or third grade. No matter, it all matters. Be aware also, that underneath those new clothes may hide a lurking menace known as anxiety.
A recent Johns Hopkins article outlines five ways to help relieve the anxiety of going back to school…albeit a new school, a new grade level, or transitioning into middle or high school.
1. Start a routine a week or two before school starts. Earlier bedtime, and clothing selection for the next day are easy first steps.
2. Make sure your child has playdates with classmates or familiar peers before school starts. If you have a new neighbor, reach out and invite them into your process.
3. If at all possible, visit the school before the school year begins. Practice the drop off and pick up routine. Check with the office staff to see if getting a chance to play on the playground (or just walk through it) is possible. If you are fortunate enough to get into the school building before the first day, ask if your child would be able to walk the halls (supervised of course). This would familiarize them with the layout.
4. If you have a preschooler or a transitioning Kindergartener to first grade student, offer an incentive for a positive separation. It could be something as simple as a trip to the library after school.
5. Don’t dismiss the anxiety. Be a reflective listener and validate their concerns by acknowledging that new things can be a challenge, but you are there to support them no matter what.
Have a wonderful 2018-19 school year students, parents and teachers!