Start Transitioning Now for the School Year Ahead

Start Transitioning Now for the School Year Ahead

Yes, it's true; the new school year is just a couple of short weeks away. The last day of summer may be September 22 on the calendar, but for kids and teens the end of summer is when school begins again.

The start of a new school year can be stressful for both kids and their parents. This year, be prepared. Start transitioning now with these tips:

  • Get back into a sleep routine. Bed times are typically more relaxed, but, about 2-3 weeks before school starts, it's a good idea to get students back to a bed time and wake time schedule, as if school has already stated. And remember, no electronic devices thirty minutes before bed.
  • Shop for school supplies together. Want to see your children get excited about the new school year? Take them shopping for new school supplies. Allow them to pick out their own things, while still providing guidance on needs vs. wants. I still remember my first trapper keeper; it was awesome!
  • Set up a homework station.Together with your child, establish a quiet place, free from distractions, and set expectations about when homework will be done.
  • Meet the teacher(s). Getting to know the teacher before school begins can help calm a child's fears. Touring the school together with your child can be a great opportunity. Be positive and point out the things you see like "how cool the student's classroom looks." (Most teachers put in long hours getting their room ready for the upcoming school year.) If you have an older child, let them give a tour of the school. This can help them refresh their memory and yours.
  • Talk through the anxieties. Kids can feel anxious about returning to school for many reasons. Whatever the issue, talk about it with your child, but don't stay focused on it. Kids (and some adults) can globalize things such as saying school is always boring, homework is impossible, or that no one likes them. This negative, all-or-nothing thinking can lead to increased anxiety and feelings of depression. As the parent, challenge that negative thinking! Remind your child about the things they liked from the previous school year.

As a counselor, I am aware that, at times, school can be quite stressful for kids of all ages. Grades, social relationships and homework (to name a few) are things that kids can stress about. It is easy to look past the challenges that kids experience and minimize what they are feeling, but remember, being a good listener, staying positive and involved with your child's education goes a long way to ease their concerns and reduce anxiety all through the school year.

  • Scott Steenwyk, LMSW

    Scott Steenwyk, LMSW

    Scott Steenwyk is an outpatient therapist at Holland Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services working with children, adolescents and families on a variety of mental health issues. Scott lives in Holland with his wife and two young sons. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family, coaching his kids in numerous sports, boating and running.

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