Guess what time is quickly approaching…yep! Back to School!!!
My daughters are beginning new schools this year. One begins high school while the other starts middle school. However, I worry more about my 11 year old since the changes from elementary to middle school can be more pronounced. All of a sudden, kids now have to manage their own schedules, decide where to sit for lunch, and designate their own study time all while trying to make new friends, navigating through an unfamiliar, larger school, and taking on an increased workload.
So here are some areas to consider in easing your child’s anticipation for the new school year experience. While these are mainly geared toward middle schoolers, they can easily be applied to any student.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
Oftentimes, it’s the straightforward information that can be most helpful. Planning ahead of time can cut back on frustration and anxiety on the part of both parent and child.
Consider attending an orientation. Before school begins, get a copy of your child’s class schedule and explore the school layout so your child can become familiar with the new setting. Walk your kid to each class and locate the closest restrooms. Kids can be given as little as 4 minutes between classes.
Buy a lock and practice the new combination. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to unlock a locker when you are crunched for time and you have to remember how to get to your next class. Have him or her practice the lock and memorize the combination.
Make copies of pertinent information. Kids have to juggle a ton of information in that first week. Make sure to supply your child with two copies of their class schedule in case they lose one. Also, make sure they have the necessary information regarding bus and lunch schedules.
THE SCHOOL WORK
With each new stage in a kid’s school career, there is the expectation that class work becomes more difficult. Of course, there is nothing we can do as parents to unload them of this burden, but there are things we can do to help them increase their efficiency and productivity.
Practice time management & organization skills. Buy your child a planner and/or calendar. Assist him or her in scheduling due dates for projects and homework. Purchase post-it notes, index cards, and highlighters for organizing and building study skills.
Set realistic academic goals. Let them know that you are proud of their efforts more so than the grade. Reward them accordingly. I am not a big believer in paying for grades but instead rewarding kids through appreciation and acknowledgment. Kids are quite capable of doing well in school. It’s the times they struggle that we need to pay attention to how we respond. Ask yourself: Was the grade acceptable for the type of work that was performed? Are my academic expectations for my child reasonable? And, how can I teach or guide my child to make improvements?
Keep an open dialogue with your kid’s teachers. Communication between parent and teacher is essential in helping your child through challenging times. A teacher can keep you tuned in to what goes on in school before something becomes a situation.
Encourage socializing. While it’s not a great idea to talk in class, it is wise to exchange email addresses or phone numbers with another student in each class. There will be times when your kid will miss class and having a fellow student who can communicate class assignments can help your kid from falling behind.
First day of school can be intimidating for kids especially when they are the new kid. This is a great time to talk with them about their expectations and discuss past experiences. When anxiety becomes prominent in a child’s mind, he or she may forget their own successes from previous school years.
Encourage extracurricular activities. Making new friends can be a daunting task but getting your child involved in sports or an afterschool organization can ease their woes of being an outsider. Just make sure it’s an activity your child enjoys.
Plan weekend hangouts. If your kid is at a new school, chances are, they miss a friend from their previous school. Allow your child to reconnect with old friends over the weekend. Also, show support for new, budding relationships by inviting new friends over after school or on the weekends.
Consider emotional growth. Keep in mind that with all the new changes taking place, your kid is dealing with one that needs to be taken into account. Puberty! Yes this is a fun one! Even the sweetest of kids can turn into scary little creatures. Be sympathetic and understanding. Sometimes they just need to feel supported and accepted.
I hope these tips help you in the new school year! Remember you are their #1 teacher. YOU have the ability to influence your kid’s new school year experience. Good luck and have a great year!