For many students starting school for the first time or attending a new school, the transition isn’t always an easy one. How can you make it easier on your kids?
Child psychiatrist Vinay Saranga M.D. shares these five essential tips below for helping families transition into the new school year seamlessly.
Ask your young kids how they are feeling: For children going to school for the first time or those starting at a new school, the transition can be difficult and filled with anxiety. Sometimes kids won’t express their emotions so as parents, you need to ask them what they are feeling. Help them feel reassured and know that having mixed emotions of happiness, fear and even confusion are all normal and that many of the other kids are feeling that way, too.
Help your kids get (and stay) excited about school: Kids will model the behavior of their parents. When you talk about school, be upbeat and excited about it. Share some of the better memories you have from your school days or funny stories that portray school as a positive experience. Be real with your kids and let them know you were nervous in the beginning, but talk about all the good things like making new friends, learning to read and more.
Find the right balance of goals for the new school year: Parents should work with their kids to set goals for the new school year. Make sure you help your kids set realistic goals that are on their learning level. Straight A’s, for example, is a great goal to have, but it might be unrealistic for some kids. If the goal is too far out of reach, your child will feel overwhelmed and defeated. If it’s too easy, he or she will become bored.
Teach your kids age appropriate realities: As your children get a little older and further along in school, they’re going to have to learn some lessons about life. As parents, you can help make the transition easier for your children by sharing advice around some of these topics such as bullying and being teased, life not always being fair, the importance of sharing, saying no to drugs, learning from their failures, helping others, inclusion and equality, how to get along with difficult people, letting their voice be heard and more.
Give your kids something to look forward to: Like adults, children need something to look forward to. It helps keep them motivated. Plan a trip or something fun for winter break, spring break or next summer. When they are feeling down, remind them that this next big great adventure is right around the corner.