Going back to school is more stressful for our children than we, or they, realize. They have the combination of new academic challenges and new social situations. These can be compounded by a new school, as well.
Recognize that your child will likely feel these stresses and don’t add to those feelings by becoming stressed yourself. Kids are quite sensitive and will feel your stress! Try being very understanding about whatever issues your child comes home with. Let your child explain completely all of her or his feelings, thoughts and ideas.
Think about discussing your child’s issues with his or her teacher to see how common such issues might or might not be; discuss potential solutions. Ask your child what they would like to do about the particular problems and work on a solution together. Have your child “choose” the solution. “Owning” a solution is an important part of its success. Don’t worry too much; there are many years of school still to come!
So what can you do in general to help make the new year start more smoothly?
Talk about what your child is learning, what events are fun and how she/he has been interacting with peers.
Don’t focus right away on grades and homework.
Be enthusiastic…. Read with your child. Read newspaper articles, children’s stories, magazines, instruction manuals. Get your child used to reading and using reading to obtain information.
Help your child become organized. Ask and advise on keeping things neat and easy to access. Being organized will help your child feel less stress and should ultimately help with getting homework done properly.
Focus on strengths and successes; celebrate in ways small and large.
Look for opportunities to teach every day and in everyday activities. Talk about how many gallons of gas will get you how many miles? Ask what the cost of a gallon of milk is per quart or per ounce. Ask for help with directions and reading a map. Ask for help in understanding a recipe, not just the actual words, but the amounts, etc.
Basically, just be interactive, in a positive way. Enjoy this time; it passes too quickly!