Where did the summer go? Those once empty streets which made for such an easy morning commute are now filled with yellow school buses and children eager to replace their flip flops and Frisbees with backpacks and blackboards. Perhaps for some that may be true, but for others, the thought of returning to school isn’t a positive one. Just as every child is different, so too is their ability to transition. Where one child may adapt easily to their new routine, another may feel overly anxious. Some children may need just a little more support. With that in mind, MHA is sharing the following tips (thank you Washington Post) to assist families with their summer-to-school transition:
- Allow your child (and you) to be crabby. For many children, summer is so much fun and they are very unhappy to let the fun go. They want to meet their teacher and see their friends, but they miss the summer lifestyle. Who hasn’t felt this way? As caregivers, go ahead and allow all of these feelings. Resist the urge to cheerlead and try to persuade the child to feel “happy” or “hopeful.” Just listen, hug and nod along with the complaints.
- Allow all routines and rules to feel flexible and easy. A routine is good when it’s clear and consistent, but also flexible enough to withstand change. And while it may sometimes feel as though you are going into battle, you aren’t. It’s school. And almost nothing (not a routine, not schoolwork, not getting dressed, not taking away technology) is worth destroying your relationship with your child. See past the tantrums and find your soft heart for your child. Have empathy and ask yourself, “How would I like someone to treat me at this moment?”
- Don’t be afraid to contact teachers and administrators before school begins. Teachers love a heads-up about children and welcome any tips you have about building a strong connection. Ask the teacher to name his favorite food, favorite vacation spot, favorite color, animal. Share this list with your child, and you’ll begin to see how much your child and the teacher have in common, or revel in the interesting differences. This simple connection tool can go a long way toward helping a nervous child feel a little more comfortable with a new face.
- Finally, parents: Be sure to get your house in order, both physically and mentally. A little nighttime list: Have the lunches packed, have the breakfast table set and ready, have your own clothes ready to wear for the morning and, as always, have the coffeemaker ready. The 10 minutes spent at night can give enough time to greet your children tenderly in the morning, rather than with commands and demands barked in frustration.
- Have faith, keep going and remember: soft heart, strong boundaries.