10 Tips For a Less Stressful School Year (Advice from a Mom/Teacher)
Back to School:
The transition from the lazy care free days of summer to the routine schedules of the school year can be quite daunting. Parents and children alike tend to face this time with dread and anxiety, especially parents whose children will be trotting off the school for the first time. My “baby” is about to enter high school. My daughter is heading back to college to start her sophomore year and I am about to introduce myself to a brand new batch of eager three year olds in my preschool classroom. As a teacher and parent of older children who has been around the proverbial back-to-school block, I thought I would share a few bits of advice. You might say that I have learned by trial and error (a lot of error) and hope that by passing on what I have learned, your “back to school” experience may be less stressful.
- Prepare your child for the first day of school by adjusting their schedule. Begin at least a week before by adjusting bedtimes and setting alarm clocks for earlier rising. This will get their “internal clocks” re-set for their new routine.
- Communicate with your child’s teacher(s) and school staff. Attend open house night to allow your child to become familiar with their new surroundings and teachers. This will curb first day anxieties for both you and your child.
- Go over the student handbook with your child making sure to answer any questions they may have. Being familiar with school rules and procedures will help ensure and encourage appropriate behavior from your child. This will also help you know safety and security procedures.
- Set realistic goals for your child. Setting extremely high goals can be damaging. Encourage him/her to do their best. Pushing your child to be like someone else (i.e. a sibling or friend) will damage their confidence and create a fear of failure. Staying in contact with the teacher will help a great deal in this area.
- Form your own opinions. Parents love to tell horror stories about unpleasant experiences they have had with teachers. Avoid forming opinions based on “hear say” rather work to gather your own facts before coming to solid conclusions.
- If and when a problem arises, do not always think your child is innocent. Kids mess up; they are kids and they are going to mess up. Do not automatically blame the teacher; gather the facts first. Again, communication is key.
- Get involved. Participating in the PTA, fundraisers, chaperoning field trips or volunteering in the classroom will show your interest to your child as well as create a sense of community.
- Create a paper calendar and post it in a prominent place. Keeping track of deadlines for homework, projects and test dates will eliminate surprises and avoid late night trips to Wal-Mart for poster board or the ingredients to make a working volcano at 9:00 on a Sunday night.
- Emphasize that school is fun. While school is mandatory, it is important to have fun. School is the cornerstone of long lasting friendships and sets the tone for who you child will become. Even when you have to go out at 11 p.m. to pick them up from their 8th grade dance do it with enthusiasm and not in your pajamas and curlers.
- Pack lunch boxes the night before (or as much as you can). Lunches should be satisfying and creative. A cold sandwich is not a necessary component of a school lunch. Purchase several containers of varying sizes and fill them with healthy creative foods that will not only promote healthy eating habits but will fuel your child’s body for the second half of their day. Allow your child to make food choices to ensure that they will want to eat their packed lunch. Freeze yogurt tubes, juice or water bottles instead of using icepacks that are messy and heavy. Tuck a note of encouragement in their lunchbox to let them know you are thinking of them.