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Back to School Transition Tips
7/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
Back to School Transition Tips

Southwest Louisiana students will head back to school next month. For many kids 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 for your children?

Child psychiatrist Dr. Vinay Saranga offers these tips:

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. Parents 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 other kids feel the same way. 

Help your kids get 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. 

If possible, take your child to the school for a tour and to meet their new teacher prior to school starting: 

This helps eliminate the unknown for your children. When they see the classroom, meet their teacher, and see where they will spend their days, the familiarity will help reduce anxiety on the first day. 

Start learning before school starts: Encourage your children to get back into reading, writing and math studies before the first day. Pull out some of their work from last year and review it or download learning apps to make it more fun for your kids. This helps ready the mind for learning and begins the transition from summer play mode to learning mode so it’s not a big shock on day one. 

Start adjusting schedules early: Chances are, your kids probably stayed up a little later and slept in over the summer. Don’t wait until the first day of school to wake them up earlier. Start having them go to bed a little earlier and waking up a little earlier in the morning a couple weeks prior to school beginning so it’s not so difficult on the first day of school. Most kids do better with structure, so plan before and after school schedules so your kids know what to expect.   

Get school shopping done early: Rushing around at the last minute to get all those school supplies adds to your children’s stress and anxiety. Start back-to-school shopping early. Involve your kids and let them pick out their own backpacks, lunchboxes and notebooks in their favorite colors and patterns. Let them pick a new outfit for the first day of school that makes them feel confident and comfortable. 

Find the right balance of goals for the new school year: Work with your kids to set realistic goals for the new school year. 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.  

Vinay Saranga M.D. is a child psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry. www.sarangapsychiatry.com

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