School is here. This is the time of year when parents rejoice and children recoil. Summer has ended and the new academic year is upon us. Everyone is out buying school supplies, getting new school clothes or uniforms, and trying to get back on a regular schedule for eating and sleeping before heading back into school day routines.
For most kids, they will continue to the next grade within the environment they left in May. For others, they will be transitioning to high school, middle school, college, or a new school for the first time. With transitions typically comes anxiety. So many questions that come with childhood transitions from “How will I make new friends?” to “Will I be able to find all my classrooms?” to “What shoes do the kids at this school wear?”
Some of us have forgotten the nerves that come with that first day of school and, quite frankly, even for those of us who haven’t, so many things have changed. So here are a few quick tips to help your child adjust to the big and little changes ahead:
- Talk. Check in with your child each afternoon. Begin familiarize yourself with the key players in their world. It’s natural to be stressed, but overwhelming for some kids to feel as if they are the only one or as if they can’t talk about it. Talking helps.
- Listen. Remember that what seems simple and easy to you can feel OVERWHELMING to your child. Sometimes allowing them a space to talk through the changes can make a world of difference in easing anxiety for new situations. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers for them, they just need space to process.
- Encourage. Remind them that everything will be okay and that you are always there for them. Encourage your child to seek assistance from adults (think teachers and school counselors) if they have questions or difficulties.
Starting middle school, high school, or college can be difficult. Each of these represents a pivotal educational milestone different from the previous and each places you at the bottom of the food chain after having been at the top. Knowing you are not alone and that you are not an alien helps. And if you or your child find yourself needing someone to talk to, I’d love to listen.