BY JANICE RUSSELL
As parents, we want our children to thrive during the fragile back-to-school season. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of reasons this might not happen. From fears of their new responsibility and social anxiety to personal problems at home and having the wrong homework setup, your child faces issues each day that you may not consider. If you find yourself with a child unable to cope with the end of summer, keep reading for ways to help them keep their cool.
With each new grade, students are required to learn how to use new tools and strategies to succeed. In middle and high school, they may also have to get used to homework and extracurricular activities. Make sure that your child has everything they need to handle academics both at school and at home. This might include a desk, computer, or other school supplies they’ve never needed before. If your family’s financial situation does not allow you to provide these luxuries, do not be ashamed to ask for assistance from local organizations.
A guidance counselor is an often untapped asset available most schools. This is an individual who has a Master’s degree in school counseling and is an essential part of your child’s education team. Their education, coupled with experience and compassion, makes them the perfect partner to help your child work through social, academic, and personal problems they may not be comfortable talking to you about. Their guidance counselor can even help mediate conflicts within the school, complete college and scholarship applications, and improve learning conditions for your child.
Sometimes, back-to-school problems are not a lack of supplies or emotional turmoil but the product of an unstructured sleep routine. The National Sleep Foundation notes that children of elementary school age who received less than 10 hours of sleep are prone to attention and academic issues. Even older kids can benefit from 15 to 20 minutes of additional lights-out time each night. To help them settle in, make sure your home is between 60 and 68 degrees and replace any worn-out bedding, which includes their mattresses, pillows, and linens.
If your kids cannot go to bed early, allow them to sleep in a bit each day. You might have to make some changes to your schedule, but, with planning, it can work. This should include ensuring you have plenty of easy-to-prepare and healthy breakfast foods on hand and looking for ways to minimize an all-out tantrum when it’s time to get dressed. Make a point to check their backpacks the night before so that they are not scrambling to complete homework assignments before the bell.
Studies have shown time and again that parental engagement is one way to encourage success in and out of the classroom. Being involved in your child’s academic life can help assuage many common problems, including feeling intimidated by their teachers and administrative staff and feeling as though they are alone. This is especially important when your child is beginning a new school or if an older sibling has recently moved to middle or high school or has left home for college.
Banish the back-to-school blues by supporting your students anywhere there are gaps. While your learner’s needs will be unique, making sure they are fully stocked, know the resources available to them, and have a simplified schedule are all great ways to make this year their best year. So get involved and pave the path toward academic success.