Back to School Success

With school back in session comes a set of stressors for both children and parents. Here, some advice to get set up for a fresh start this fall and get on the path to back to school success.

Manage Anxiety

Being back at school brings a wide range of feelings for children and parents. Recognizing emotions is the key to alleviating anxiety. Family physician and founder of the Adolessons website, adolessonsLA.com, Dolly Klock, MD, suggests, “Name it to tame it.” She notes that when a child can clearly express emotions such as, “I feel nervous” or “I am sad,” it becomes easier to learn how to manage that emotion and destigmatize it. Parents are going through their own transitions as well. Some—like when little ones go off on the school bus for the first time—are bittersweet. Dr. Klock explains that self-regulating emotions is key as children absorb their parents’ anxiety.

Be Prepared

We all know school mornings can be chaotic. Getting organized at night can prevent the a.m. scramble, and involving your child in the process is crucial. Parents can fall into the habit of doing all the footwork for their children when they are well beyond ready for those tasks. Let little ones pack the dry part of their lunches at night. Teens can start packing their own. Outfits should be picked out and homework stashed safely inside notebooks. One of Dr. Klock’s favorite fall mottos is to get those backpacks “on the floor, by the door, the night before.”

Avoid the After School Interrogation

It is natural to be curious about your child’s day, yet the drive home may not be the optimal time for fruitful conversations, especially performance-based ones. Try to avoid launching into, “how did you do on that test?” or “did you win your volleyball game?” as your opener. Kids are tired, hungry and generally not up to answering questions. Dr. Klock recommends sharing details of your day, which may prompt a more organic conversation and lead to back to school success.

Homework Logistics

Determine a routine place for your child to do homework—a desk or the kitchen table for example—yet be flexible on timing. Parents may be adamant that kids get right to it. Kids may feel they need a break before tackling assignments. Try it their way first and results could be surprising. If the desired result isn’t achieved, then make changes. If your student’s homework has an online component, Dr. Klock advises starting that earlier in the afternoon. The textbook portion can be done in the evening when the emphasis should be on winding down electronic use.

Take a Meeting

Something Dr. Klock has implemented with her own family is scheduling weekly meetings. This is when calendars are discussed and logistics get worked out. There is the inevitable dividing and conquering of activities, yet it can also be a time to recognize achievements and air grievances. Talk about what worked well thisweek and what could improve next week. This is also an opportunity to make sure all social needs are met, so be sure to schedule family fun time as well.

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