Back to School Tips for Parents
The new school year can bring mixed emotions to caregivers and children. Some may feel excited, but many may be stressed or anxious. This is normal. In this blog post, we will answer some common back-to-school questions and give you tips to help calm your family’s worries.
What should I do at the start of the school year?
Here are 2 things you can do at the start of the school year to help ensure your kids are safe and comfortable:
- Get back to the school routine
Consider starting your child on their school sleep and wake schedule one week ahead so they can get up earlier for school after the summer break. This is also a great time for you to plan when to prepare lunch boxes.
- Meet the new teacher
Your family probably asks these questions when it’s the back-to-school season:
- How is my kids’ new teacher and what are their traits?
- Will my kids connect with the new teacher?
- How can I let the school know about the special needs that my child may have?
Meeting with the teacher can help you find answers to questions you may have. Most schools organize events to meet the teacher at the start of the school year. You can also read this Edmonton Public School resource to know how to stay in touch with your child’s teacher.
Here are some of the questions you can ask the new teacher:
- What is your teaching style?
- What are some of your student expectations?
- What is the homework like?
- How can I help my child deal with separation anxiety?
- What questions can I ask my children about your class daily to be more involved in their education?
What can I do at home to help my child succeed in school?
- Establish a daily family routine that encourages learning and school work.
It is vital to create a friendly and positive routine for school work. Habits can support children’s learning abilities because they learn to be more disciplined and balanced. Here’s an example of a family routine you can practice in your home:
- Snack and refresh time
When your kids come home from school, you can ask them to eat a snack and wash their faces to refresh. Your kids can do any refreshing activity as long as they don’t go over the allotted time you’ve given them so they can learn about discipline. Perhaps, they can shower quickly or play for 15 minutes.
- Homework time
They may have more energy after doing what they love and filling up their bellies. This is a good time for some homework. Guide them by discussing the school work and encouraging questions about it.
- Fun time
After doing homework, you can reward them, so they see schoolwork as a positive task. They can play with their favourite toy, watch their show, or play a family board game. Give a five-minute warning when fun time is about to end, so your kids are prepared for the next activity.
- Dinner time
Eat together if you can. To build a parent-child relationship, you can ask them how their day went and what they are excited about tomorrow’s classes.
Ensure your children get at least 8 hours of sleep to be more productive in school.
How can I manage anxiety in our home?
Feeling anxious and stressed before your kids head back to school is normal. Here are 2 ways your family can cope with anxiety:
- Accept and validate your family’s emotions
Talk with your family about their feelings regarding school, making friends, and new activities. Once all of you have shared your emotions, let each of you know that all of your feelings are normal. There is no “bad” or “wrong” emotion. If you feel overwhelmed, you can do a 10-second deep breathing exercise together.
- Discuss coping strategies you can do on your own and together as a family
You can share simple techniques to reduce anxiety with your family so all of you can practice them together or have tools to do them on your own when you are feeling anxious.
Here are some anxiety coping strategies you can do as a family:
- Listen to music
- Learn new dance moves
- Meditate at the same time
Here are simple anxiety coping strategies your children can do while they are at school:
- Deep breathing
Advise your child to take a few deep breaths in and out until they feel calmer.
- 5-4-3-2-1 technique for anxiety
This technique can help your child feel grounded. It goes like this: Breathe in and out. Then, name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch/feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 positive thing you can taste.
Your children can feel more anchored after doing this grounding exercise.
Squeeze a stress ball
- Seek professional help
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your anxiety is affecting your daily life. Mental health therapists can teach coping mechanisms that best suits your needs.
It is natural for parents and children to be agitated when the new school year starts since back to school brings hundreds of new experiences. As long as there is love, care, and open communication in your home, your family can withstand challenges that may come your way.
Remember: It is okay to feel scared and anxious. Many people experience this too. You don’t have to handle this on your own. There are many supports available in the community.
The Family Centre services that could help you and your family: