Back to School – Stress or Excitement ?

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The long summer holiday is over and the children are trooping back for a new year with new teachers. How to manage the transition? Lynn Frank of Passage has some helpful tips.

Going back to school after the long summer break can be a stressful time for parents and children. Parents may still be buying school equipment from confusing lists and having to label them all in time whilst trying to get children to bed before midnight in practice for early mornings. Meanwhile, children may be worrying about whether their parents have bought the ‘right’ stuff, which kids are going to be in their class and what teachers they will have this year. Everyone may be feeling excitement or dread. Here are a few ideas on how to make this time less stressful.

 

Understand your child’s perspective

There are a few things that we can do as parents to help with this transition.  First of all, it’s a good idea to ask our children or youths about how they feel about going back to school; kids are often much more cooperative if they feel listened to. Take time to sit down with them without disturbance of computers or phones. Ask them what they hope will be the same or different this academic year. Try to make it about focusing on the future rather than bringing up concerns about what happened last year, unless your kids want to discuss something that is worrying them e.g. being bullied or the loss of a good friend.

If you ask them a few open questions like – ‘How do you feel about the new school year? What would you like to happen this year at school? ‘Or’ What would you like to achieve this year?’ Then let them talk uninterrupted. You can keep them talking by just nodding, keeping eye contact and just saying ‘Is there anything else?’  If they have a chance to talk and think about their expectations this can reduce possible anxiety and may increase the excitement of looking forward to getting back to school.

 

Ease back into the school routine

It is also a good idea to start getting back into a predictable routine before school starts. This might mean negotiating with older children how they are going to plan homework, out-of-school activities, screen-time and getting to bed early enough.  With younger children you might want to use reward charts with clear tasks they have to do each day e.g. getting up and getting dressed by themselves. Each task should be age appropriate and earn a star or tick. Rewards for a full chart of stars can range from stickers to a special treat to save up for.

All children need routines whatever their age. They are helpful because they help them predict and plan, whilst teaching valuable skills in learning to organise themselves for the future.

 

Don’t overload the family’s schedule

At the beginning of the school year it is wise not to commit to lots of after- school activities. This can be difficult because you will be expected to sign up in September possibly for the whole year. However, every school year is different for you and your child. It is hard to predict how much time or support they are going to need with homework or even just ‘down time’ with nothing to do but read, think or play sport. Kids lives are often filled with ‘things to do’ and we forget how good it once felt to just hang out in the park or on play-dates with friends. Try to plan some unscheduled time for kids.

 

Don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it

kjt logo quadriAll parents and children have worries or concerns about school at some point. There may be times when you or your child have questions or feel the need to talk to someone outside the family. Kanner Jungend Telephon (KTJ) offer a free, confidential and anonymous service for parents, children and youths . The online service (for parents in English and children or youths in English, German, French & Luxembourgish) can be accessed through the KJT website at www.kjt.lu Their trained staff can answer any questions no matter how big or small. We encourage you to use this new service in Luxembourg, inform other parents and tell your children about it for now or in case they need it in the future. You are not alone.

 

Photo: Ezra Jeffrey/unsplash

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Lynn Frank
Lynn Frank is co-founder of Passage, a a parent support group in Luxembourg. She has worked in the voluntary sector all her life and holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology and a Masters in Public Health Education & Promotion.

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