It’s that time of year again! The official first day of school is quickly approaching. As a parent and Social Worker, I believe it’s important to give our children the tools to have a successful school year. Thus I wanted to give some recommendations that may seem like common sense.. but we can all use reminders! So amidst the shuffle of finalizing that school supply checklist.. I hope you find this helpful. 

The beginning of the school year is stressful..whether positive or negative. Change is stressful for parents, children, teachers, school staff, and more. Some of the changes your child may experience in the next few weeks include: waking up earlier, returning to a structured routine, a change in schools, a change in teachers, a change in peers, classwork, homework, the expectation of focus and attention, the expectation of listening and remaining seated, expectations in classroom behavior, consequences, the stress of how to manage school lunch dynamics, attempting to fit in with peers, the desire to fit in with a specific group, portraying specific personality traits, appearance, and building on friendships or peer groups. All of this and more is naturally anxiety provoking. And hopefully exciting as well.

It’s fairly common for children to have difficulty in adjusting to all of these stressors. And if left unaddressed can result in significant inappropriate behavior. Additional concerns include: incomplete assignments, poor attention, acting out, failing grades, negative peer attention, bullying, and serious academic consequences. Here are some tips for parents to be proactive in avoiding the above:

  • Try to have your child on a “back to school” sleeping schedule several days prior to school starting. Children (yes teens included) require no less than 8 hours of sleep a night.
  •  Have your child prepared in regards to clothing, supplies, food, and the expected routine of the day. This should include transportation and before/ after care arrangements.
  • Have expectations of your child’s behavior during and out of school. Communicate your behavioral expectations to your child prior to school starting. 
  • Meet your child’s teachers. Ask for their contact information. Build a positive relationship where open communication is easily accessible.
  • Communicate with your child. Actively listen to them in regards to what is occurring at school. And intervene quickly if and when a problem arises. 
  • Know your child’s peer group. 
  • Have expectations for your child’s behavior and grades. This includes homework assignments. And use rewards and consequences to modify that behavior. 
  • Know who to contact if you become concerned about your child. The School Counselor is typically a great place to start.
  • Try to be proactive as much as possible. 
  • When an issue arises, request a meeting with your child’s school staff.  

The educational experience is meant to assist children and parents. And there are laws that guide this in the public sector. Be as involved and supportive for your child, as possible. Check the school’s website for information on a regular basis. Get text messages/ emails from the school if available. Keep current with your child’s class assignments and grades. Most schools use an online system for this. It’s quite important to attend the school’s open house. Keep an active list of your child’s teacher’s contact information. All public school teachers have an email address. And some may be comfortable with you calling them. It doesn’t hurt to ask! 

Please remember that there are resources in the school system and outside the school system to assist you. We want you and your child to have a affirmative academic experience, with positive memories. 

Angie Simonton, LCSW-BACS

Website @www. angiesimontonlcsw.org

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