As summer vacation comes to an end, it’s typical for children – and parents – to feel anxious about transitioning back into the school routine. Advanced preparation can reduce some of those negative feelings and actually make going back to school fun!
Empower your children with these activities:
- Take a tour of campus together before school starts. Where will their class be located on campus? What will their walk to class look like? And if you can’t physically tour the campus, find photos online of what it looks like to help your child imagine what it will be like to walk on campus.
- Plan out their new schedule together on a large calendar. What time will you leave the house for school? What time will they be picked up and where? What will their afternoon activities be?
- Involve them in planning for their school lunches, and offer choices. What type of sandwich would they like to take? What types of fruits and veggies?
- Discuss fun things they like about school. What was an activity they enjoyed doing at school last year? Can they describe some of the people they liked seeing every day?
- Role play possible conversations as they meet new teachers and new friends. What are some things they’d like to share about themselves or their summer away from school? What might they want to learn about their peers? Think of some questions they might want to ask others.
- Talk about any parts of the school day that might be a little challenging for your child. Create a plan for what they can do to get support and feel better at those times. Identify people they can talk to on campus, or have them write their feelings down at those times so that they can share later at home.
We all need time to adjust to changes, and the duration of that time is different for every child. If you notice your child is struggling for longer than usual, it may be time to meet with their school counselor. Many schools have great resources, like support groups, or can refer you to a school-based mental health provider, like The Guidance Center.
It’s important to know that asking for help doesn’t mean that your child is different or weak. Children respond differently to situational stressors, and that’s okay.
Sometimes a little extra support is all that’s needed to enjoy the adventure of starting a new school year!
Alyssa Bray, LMFT, is the Chief Clinical Officer at The Guidance Center. Bray oversees the overall direction and vision of clinical services for the nearly 3,000 children and parents served by The Guidance Center’s staff in its three clinics, local schools, and co-located partnerships throughout greater Long Beach, Compton, Lynwood, Paramount, San Pedro, and Avalon on Catalina Island. Throughout her more than 20-year career in community mental health, she has helped children of all ages and their families succeed in a variety of clinical and leadership positions. Bray earned her Master of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles and her Bachelor’s in Psychology from UCLA.