Oh no! Summer is over?
Oh no! Summer is over?
I have to go back to school? Yes, it’s true and the transition from summer to school brings unique challenges for both children and parents. Adjustments to schedules, feelings of anxiety, homework, safety issues, and more can be overwhelming.
Consider these suggestions for having a great start to the new school year.
-Routine/Organization – One of the greatest back to school challenges is the transition from a relaxed to a structured schedule. During the summer most parents allow children to stay up later at night and get up later in the morning. A return to the school schedule can be a shock for children and result in a grumpy, cranky student. Two to three weeks before school starts parents should have children begin the routine of regular sleep and wakeup times.
Another back to school challenge is organization. The unstructured days of summer are great for children but when school begins they must shift from neutral to drive quickly. Parents can help children get organized in a number of ways.
The experts all agree that color is the key. Color-coding folders, notebooks, book sleeves, and other supplies is one of the best ways to help students keep it all together. Parents can utilize that same system at home with a color-coded master calendar that shows school activities and assignments. Parents can also help children stay on track by previewing the week ahead on Sunday afternoons or evenings after church.
-Anxiety – Anxiety may be the greatest back to school challenge for some children. Concerns of separation from parents, acceptance by peers, the ability to make the grade, and other issues can result in high levels of stress.
Childhood and educational professionals offer the following suggestions for addressing anxiety. For separation anxiety, reinforce an unconditional love and care for the child. Do not seek to minimize the child’s feelings but help him understand that school is fun and exciting. Before school starts, take the child to visit the classroom and meet the teacher. Read with the child one or more of the back to school books designed to reduce the fears of separation.
For general anxiety issues, reinforce confidence in the child’s ability to cope with different situations. Provide suggestions on how to manage difficult challenges. Share personal struggles and how those were overcome. Communicate with teachers and other school officials, working as a team to help the student succeed.
Remember that children in transition years face several unique changes. The move from having one teacher to six may be traumatic for some. The first year of high school can be quite challenging with regard to peer pressure. Check to see if your school system offers a transition workshop for students. Discuss self-esteem, self-image, personal integrity, and other issues before school begins. If anxiety issues continue over a period of time or if symptoms become severe, seek appropriate professional assistance.
-Homework – The homework debate continues but for most students it is a daily reality and challenge. To prepare students for a good start with homework, parents can follow these few suggestions. A few weeks before school starts, reduce TV viewing and have the child play quiet games or find and memorize Bible verses.
Designate a homework location. Choose a quiet place that is free from distraction. Put together a homework kit that includes pens, paper, a dictionary, and other needed supplies. Establish a homework schedule. If appropriate, allow the child to choose a time before or after the evening meal to do homework. Include breaks in the child’s homework schedule. Be available to help the child when needed. Providing support helps the child understand that homework is important.
-Safety – Safety is a growing challenge for school children in our world today. Parents should provide children with a review of safety rules and procedures for a number of settings. Those include biking or walking to school, bus safety, playground safety, and after school home safety. Other suggestions include traveling routes with children before school begins and conducting safety role-play exercises.
Whatever back to school challenge children and parents face, everyone should remember that God has an answer. The Bible assures us that we do not have to be anxious about anything but that we can take our problems to God in prayer and find peace. Children also need to be reminded that they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength and that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Parents should remind children that everything they do they should do as unto the Lord and that school is a part of God’s great plan for the child. Perhaps the best back to school strategy of all, however, is for parents to pray for and with children about their work at school.
Back to school is here! May God bless you with a wonderful and productive year.