Back to School (or starting a new school): Helping Your Child Adjust

T_BacktoSchool.jpg After a summer of sleeping in or doing things on their time, the alarm bell announcing that first day of school can be a rude awakening. Heading back to school signals a time of transition: new classes, new teachers, new schedules, and a new social scene.

Here are some ways to make the transition from summer to school a little easier:

There's no escaping the fact that the first day of school can be crazy.  How can you help combat first-day chaos? If your kids are headed to a new school, try to arrange a visit before classes begin. Explore any areas that are of particular interest, such as the gymnasium, library, or science labs.

The first day is also the time to bring in school supplies and paperwork. Help them pack their backpacks well in advance so they're not scrambling around at the last minute looking for what they need.

Does your child try on eight different outfits before deciding what to wear? Lots of people check out who's wearing what on the first day of school. The key is to wear what makes them feel good, whether it's a brand-new outfit or a comfy old sweater. If they plan to wear a new pair of shoes, have them break them in a few days beforehand or their feet may scream for relief long before last period.

Here's a simple equation: new place = new emotions. Lots of people feel anxious, scared, or excited about school. New kids are likely to be tense or worried.

It's perfectly normal to feel nervous on the first day of school.

Meeting new people or getting reacquainted with classmates can feel overwhelming, especially if they're the shy or reserved type. Start small: If large groups make your child nervous, advise them to try saying hello to one or two new people a day — the kid at the desk next to theirs in homeroom is a good place to start, and may be a good person to ask to sit with them in the cafeteria.

One of the best ways for your child to make friends and learn their way around is by joining school clubs, sports teams, and activities. Even if they can't score a goal or sing a solo, getting involved in other ways —  helping with a bake sale, or cheering on friends at a sports meet — can help them feel like a part of things.

If your child still feels uncomfortable after a few days, they should talk to the school guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, or someone else they trust about how they're feeling and what they can do. But they will need give themselves time — most problems adjusting to school are only temporary.


Adapted from