A new school year elicits many emotions for both students and parents. Excitement and worry about what is to come, combined with adjusting to changes, can be a stressful time. Recognizing and understanding these feelings, while prioritizing mental wellness, can help ensure that our families are off to a great start. Here are 7 helpful tips to get students off to a successful start this year:
- Ease into a Routine The summer months may have had less structure—such as no set breakfast or lunch times, or late nights and mornings of sleeping in. Expecting that pattern to change like a light switch will only lead to frustration! Transition your child into a school schedule before the first day to help them get used to the change. Explain that getting enough sleep will give them energy and prepare their brain to learn—that’s a positive! Younger children may also need to practice a few skills before their first day, like opening the items in their lunchbox, walking patiently in line, and raising their hand and waiting until called on.
- School Shopping Turn shopping for clothes and supplies into a fun experience! By getting excited about their back-to-school materials, students will have a more upbeat outlook on the school year ahead—and observing your enthusiastic attitude places a higher value on their education. Purchasing these items is an investment in your student’s ability to flourish in the classroom. If finances are a concern, reach out to your local charity organizations, which often hold supply drives and backpack giveaway events.
- Plan Ahead Review the academic calendar before school starts to identify early release and no school dates. Make arrangements for these days ahead of time to avoid stress later on. If possible, maintain your routine on these days and build in some learning activities like visiting a museum, volunteering together, or exploring nature.
- Homework Area Designate a place for your child’s homework that is away from distractions to strengthen focus. Display their artwork, projects, or tests they are proud of. Build time into your routine to review their assignments, help them study, and provide support when they need help.
- Be Actively Engaged Meet your child’s teacher(s) and communicate any important information they may need to know—such as allergies and medical concerns, or things that help your child calm down when they are upset. Be sure to know who the school’s administrators are, who the Youth Resource Deputy is, and who the school counselors are, too. Volunteering at school functions and attending ceremonies or events will help build your student’s connection to school and convey how much you care about their success.
- Discuss Action Plans Have conversations with your student about what to do if certain situations occur, such as what to do if they experience bullying, miss the bus, or get lost. Review emergency contact numbers and store a list in their backpack for safe keeping. This is a tough subject, but your child will have lockdown drills that can be scary; hearing about them from you ahead of time, and reassuring them that they are for safety reasons, can help reduce their anxiety in the moment.
- Be Informed Knowledge is power! Understand the reality that your child may be exposed to social media apps or websites that you would not allow. Stay current on the apps used most often by students and if your child has a cell phone or tablet, establish an agreement for its use. Register for free educational presentations and training provided by David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) to further your ability to stay informed on valuable information related to youth mental health. Learn more atDLCenters.org/events.
Even though back-to-school time can be overwhelming, there are many positives to focus on. It may take several weeks to adjust to the changes, but with the support of those around them, students will have a great school year ahead! If there are challenges in the adjustment process, or if a student is having some difficulties, early intervention yields the most successful outcomes. Get help as soon as you notice concerns.
DLC is available to help. In addition to inpatient, outpatient and community-based treatment services for children, adults and families, DLC offers a variety of prevention and education opportunities to help parents and caregivers support the children and teens in their lives.