New shoes, a way-cool backpack and a lunch box that’s all the rage — a new school year is just around the corner. But stylish gear is not all your kids need to find school success.
While parents know that a fresh school year can broaden children’s perspectives and add new friends and experiences to their lives, sometimes the kids themselves aren’t so sure about facing the unknown.
So how can mom and dad help prepare kids for a new school year? We posed that question to Sarah R. Coates, MEd, LPC, NCC, of One-Eighty Counseling in Garner, who specializes in child and adolescent counseling.
Here, she offers five practical tips for parents on handling common back-to-school stresses for kids:
1. Stop by. Many children feel nervous about class changes and locker times, especially if the school is new to them, Coates said. Paying a visit over the summer helps relieve a child’s anxiety.
Most schools also offer open houses or new student orientations, so take advantage of those as well.
2. Meet and greet. School guidance counselors can be wonderful liaisons between school and families, Coates notes. And if there is ever a school problem, the counselors will be able to assist your family quickly and efficiently.
3. Get together. Especially if your family is new to the area, Coates suggests asking school counselors or front office staff about the possibility of organizing a new student get-together before the first day of school, or finding a way to connect new students with a few current students. This helps children feel like they already belong to the school.
4. Know your teacher. Parents should get to know their child’s teacher(s) immediately — emailing or viewing school-based websites is a great way to introduce yourself, Coates said. Then, set up a parent-teacher conference during the first month of school to learn what’s expected of your child in the classroom, and to learn the personality and teaching style of the teacher.
Also, most teachers welcome parent volunteers, and this is a great way to get to know what your child is learning in school.
5. Set the schedule. Parents should begin preparing their kids for back to school routines at least two weeks before the first day of school, Coates recommends. Implement consistent evening routines, including appropriate bedtimes and wake times.
Kids thrive on consistency; providing your child with a schedule he or she can predict will decrease anxiety about heading back to school.