Friday, August 8, 2014

A Smart Start for the School Year

The beginning of the school year can be an exciting time! For most kids, it is fun to move into a new classroom, meet new teachers and friends, and reunite with buddies they haven't seen all summer. But for a few others, these same experiences can bring anxiety, frustration and fear. Because we want every child to have a good experience with their new adventure, I'd like to share a few tips to help the first few days of school go smoothly for both parents and students.

  • Keep a Positive Attitude! When you talk about school, focus on the positives. Share only the good memories you have about earlier school years and let students know that this is a good time for fresh starts. Kids can pick up on any fear or anxiety you have on their behalf very easily. 
  • Keep Goodbyes Brief! Farewells can be hard, especially those first few days, for both kids and parents. One thing that can help is to set up the routine right from the start. Talk to your kids about what to expect when it comes time to separate. For example, let them know you will be walking them to class, taking a picture or two, a hug and a kiss and then it's time for parents to go. Even if your kiddo gets emotional, the sooner you leave the sooner they can adjust to their new classroom and teacher. It's never easy to leave your children crying or upset but don't worry, they are in the hands of professionals who care about your little ones too! Most times, before you are out the front door, they'll be settling in just fine!
  • Make a Plan. If you expect your child to have a hard time, it might be a great idea to talk to his or her teacher or counselor to set up a plan and a routine to minimize any drama. Many of the teachers I have worked with have been happy to offer smart start incentives, greet a child at the bus or drop-off, or find a small job for students to help with before school starts to keep them busy until the bell rings. Counselors can help with these things too! 
  • Listen to your child's fears. Sometimes letting kids talk about what's bothering them can help them process through the what-if's. In the case of legitimate concerns, parents can help guide these scenarios focusing on practical things students can do. Remember to focus on teaching the coping skills and positive ways students can handle the different fears they may have. 
  • Maximize Resources. Talk to your friendly Professional School Counselor, yours truly, about Friendship Groups or Social Skills Groups that may be available to teach the skills they need to help make meeting new people, making friends, following rules, and keeping routines a bit easier. We can work in small groups or individually to meet the students needs. 
Please never hesitate to contact the school about any concerns you may have for your child. We are here to help! The best way to start the school year is with good communication and keeping the goal in sight. We all want the year to be fun and exciting for EVERYONE! Together we can make it happen. :)