The fact is: there are no rules. For most parents, transitioning back to a school schedule feels chaotic and bumpy. There are school supplies to buy, orientations to attend, new teachers to meet. Finally, sometime around mid-October, most feel like they’ve settled back into a semi-normal routine (hopefully).
Is there anything parents can do August through September to support themselves and their children with this transition? We have stepped out some ideas that might be helpful for both the working parent as well as the parent focused on equipping their kid with tools for a successful school year:
It can difficult for a working parent to accommodate a back-to-school schedule. There are meetings, events, and numerous expectations that leave parents feeling overwhelmed or guilty. Asking for support is an important aspect of healthy parenting. This may require expanding your support network and finding creative ways for current supports to become involved. Examples might include:
- Asking another parent to assist with carpool to or from school or related events.
- Sitting down with a partner (or family member) to review the school calendar ahead of time and identifying what you can commit to, instead of shuffling commitments the day of an event.
- Discussing scheduling flexibility options with your employer.
- Introducing yourself to the teacher to establish an open line of communication.
- Ask your child which events they consider important for you to attend. Work with your family to prioritize the most important events.
- Research local after-school programs in your community and identify options that fit for your family and scheduling needs.
These are just a few examples of ways to access supports at various levels, but there may be many options at your fingertips that you have yet to consider. It can be helpful brainstorming new ways to utilize help and consider how you might return the support in order to maintain healthy relationships.
Perhaps you are a parent that is done with hearing “I’m bored,” and ready to get back into a normal routine. While you may have your child’s backpack ready to go, the feelings may not be mutual. Many children struggle to transition back to school for various reasons. Transitions can be a challenge for any developing brain and they often provoke anxiety. Here are a few pointers that may help ease the back-to-school blues:
- Have your child write down his or her concerns and make time to discuss. Rather than trying to “fix” his or her worries, practice empathizing and encourage your child to identify solutions.
- Pay attention to your own mood. Having a positive attitude can help your child feel more positive about the upcoming change. Children often take a parent’s lead, and if you are struggling, your child may as well.
- Plan a fun back to school shopping trip. Make a list you both agree on ahead of time, so you can stay focused and stay on budget. This will help avoid those last-minute negotiations.
- Take a tour of the school and meet the faculty. You can use this time to role model social skills for your child and help your child develop visual expectations.
- Create a coping toolbox. Sit down with your child and identify things that help with nervous energy. This may include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or identifying a strategy to seek support from the teacher or school counselor.
These are just a few strategies to consider implementing in preparation for the new year. Please feel free to contact Therapeutic Partners if you are wondering how we might support you and your family. Have a great year!