Starting off the School Year with Resiliency
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
School is finally back in, with all the excitement and stress that can come with it. Two simple things will help your child start off the school year with an extra boost of resiliency: that quality that helps us all form a buffer against stress.
First of all, help your child get into a consistent and healthy sleep pattern. (And while you are at it, get that good sleep for yourself as well!) A robust sleep-wake cycle is the building block and foundation of physical and emotional health. Sometimes the transition back to school from the more low key bed and wake-up times of the summer make sleep challenging in the first month, so making it a priority will ensure your child has one solid building block of resiliency.
Secondly, let it be known that our school age children are experiencing stress at greater levels than ever before. Increasing levels of academic pressures are being felt by kids (and parents) from Kindergarten on. Different specialists will be discussing ways to help your child reduce stress on the PFA blog and today I will describe one of them: helping your child understand that making mistakes is an essential part of the learning process. Current norms focus on score-based success, and even young children feel the pressure to earn a”+” or an “A” as the primary indicator of success. The downside of this is that it creates an atmosphere of less risk and more dependency on giving the teacher the “perfect” product. One downside to the striving for early perfection is that it can create a disincentive for taking risks and developing intellectual curiosity.
So don’t feel the pressure of preparing your child for the “real world” too soon. Learning how to think creatively grows from a solid foundation of safety in which children can risk failure. The real world is alive and well inside your child’s classroom and playground already. Providing the shelter and solace of self- acceptance is a trait that you can nurture in your child with benefits for a lifetime.
The beginning of a new school year brings with it so many opportunities. But making the transition from summer to a new school year can be challenging for preteens, and for parents. While summer can be as busy as the school year, it's a very different kind of busy. When the year begins, it can take a while to adjust to new routines, and responsibilities. Here's how to help your tween ease back into the new school year and make it through the first few months.
Helping Your Tween Transition From Summer To School
Shannon Coffey, LCSW
Go Easy on Commitments
It's tempting to want to jump right into a new school year with both feet first, but it might be better to wait a bit before committing your child (or yourself) to a million responsibilities and activities. See how much time your child will have to devote to homework and school projects this year before signing him up for extra-curricular activities or sports teams.
Give your tween time to consider the clubs, sports teams or other organizations offered to him and then examine how these commitments may (or may not) fit into the family schedule. Pick activities your tween is passionate about, and that don't require more time than your child can offer, or that you can give.
Find Time for Fun
Summer is the season of family vacations, lazy days by the pool, and slumber party after slumber party. But the fun shouldn't end just because the school year has begun. Be sure you make time during the first few weeks and months of a new school year to enjoy time with your tween, and to participate in activities that you enjoyed together over the summer. You might want to take a family picnic on a Sunday afternoon, or visit a museum together on a rainy Saturday morning.
Take advantage of warm September or October days to enjoy a bike ride or another activity outside.
Develop School Year Routines Early
One of the best ways to ease your child into a the school year is to transition him into a school schedule as soon as you can. Together, the two of you can create a daily calendar, scheduling time for homework, television, chores, and reading. Be sure you also schedule time for sleep, meals, and hanging out with friends.
If your tween knows what to expect day to day, it helps keep him on top of all of his responsibilities and prevents important events or commitments from falling through the cracks. It also keeps you both informed about school responsibilities, and helps your tween learn about time management and develop time management skills.
Seek Your Tween's Input
Your tween may know more about what a new school year will bring than you do. Ask your tween what sort of changes this school year might bring, and how he intends to handle those changes.
It's important that your tween face a new school year with enthusiasm, and if you're enthusiastic about the school year, he may catch on. Be sure he knows that the beginning of the school year is a chance to decide how he wants the school year to play out. Help him set goals for the school year, and ask him how he hopes to achieve these goals.
Finally, be sure he knows that your support is there for him throughout the year. Be sure that he knows that you don't expect him to be perfect, just to do his best.