Most kids need some time to adjust to beginning or returning to school. There is so much to adapt to from meeting new children, getting reacquainted with peers they are familiar with, learning the routines of their particular teacher, and the anticipation of homework, tests, and grades. Parents can do a lot to help this process go fairly smoothly by responding quickly to any hiccups along the way.
Parenting Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to the New School Year
1. Let your child know they are not alone in having some butterflies about beginning the new year.
2. Whatever bothered them the year before, they are probably concerned will happen again. Ask them about this and reassure them that you will be there to help things go smoother this year.
3. Discuss with them the disposition of a teacher that they prefer. If they discover the teacher is stricter or less organized than they prefer, help them adapt to this new adult by discussing how to cope with what concerns them about this particular teacher’s personality.
4. Begin right away to set up a routine for where and when to do homework. Be available to support their new learning by offering to help guide them on their new assignments.
5. Presumably there will be more work at a quicker pace than the year before. Let them know you are aware of that and admire them for taking up the new challenges of the new grade.
6. Help them gain confidence in socializing by having casual conversations about the kids they see at recess and lunch time.
7. Encourage play dates with kids they are comfortable with to expand the time they have to get to know their classmates.
8. At the beginning of the year, try not to pressure them to join many extra-curricular activities. Let the daily routine of the school day itself sink in before adding more to fill their day.
9. Help them plan breaks in their homework in the older grades. Explain that by doing this, they will feel renewed and more able to concentrate.
10. If your child resists doing homework, perhaps they need some play time before doing their assignments. Look at the clock and set a time when play time is over and homework begins.
11. Offer to sit with them while they work or just be in the same room while they are working if this eases the work load and makes them feel more comfortable. Then you’re available when questions arise without either doing the work for them or being overbearing.
12. Often children don’t see the value of homework after a full school day. Explain that the purpose is to reinforce what they learned that day so they feel more prepared when they return. This explanation is very helpful when kids feel that homework is more like a punishment or burden.
13. After the full school day, kids are hungry and often tired from getting up early and the emotions spent. Have a favorite snack available the instant they come home to give you and your child time to chat as well as some renewed energy. If you are working, have the caretaker in your place know how important this is.
Your availability or the caretaker’s availability that you employ are showing your child that you are in this new school year with them. They have an ally that cares for them and will help them every step of the way. This is both reassuring and loving and helps your child build self-confidence as they face new obstacles and challenges.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Visit her website for more insight and guidance: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.