The End of Summer Means Going Back to School
The end of summer means going back to school, or starting school for the first time, for many children. In addition to the usual social and educational stresses of going to school, kids are faced with many other issues, including drug use, violence, suicide and bullies.
It is also a good idea to regularly talk with your child about how school is going. Regular communication will help you to recognize problems early, before they get out of control and when it is easier to intervene.
What happens during breaks, such as recess, lunch and in between classes? Breaktime is when children are most likely to be unsupervised and when problems are likely to occur, so asking open ended questions about what happens during these times may help you to recognize problem behaviors.
Working parents with school-age children live each day with three days packed in: a school day, a workday, and a family day. During the school day, you are kept busy with activities from taking children to school and help them with homework and projects, to volunteering in their classrooms and helping them selling cookies. During the workday, you do what you do for living. During the family day, you run the household by taking care of laundry, bills, grocery, cooking, cleaning etc. etc. Whether you have hired help and whether you have spouses or partners to share the responsibilities certainly make a difference, but on average, your day is jammed and your stress level is high. It is hard to balance everything. It is especially hard to, on top of everything, still keep in touch with what goes on in your kids’ world and keep a constant communication with them.
Three areas are key. One, parents need to learn how to manage stress for themselves. Two, parents, together with educators, need to know the areas that school kids are most likely to need help and guidance. Three, parents should be informed with facts about today’s schools.
Back-to-school time can be stressful and overwhelming for parents financially, emotionally and physically. Parents are expected to meet the demands of a new school year, which includes buying uniforms and supplies, as well as meeting the emotional needs of their children.
- Think before you commit. In your back-to-school enthusiasm, the temptation is great to sign up for every activity or committee you can. After all, you want to be involved and help your kids and the school, right? Before you sign all those volunteer lists, stop and think about the time commitments required for each new responsibility. How will these affect the time you have to spend with your family, at your job, or pursuing your own interests?
- Schedule management
- Avoid overscheduling your child
- Set a time each day to talk with your children about their school day. This conversation could take place during dinner, in the car, or right before bed. Have reasonable expectations for what the conversation will be like. Asking, “How was school today?” is likely to get a standard response of, “Fine.” Asking more specific questions such as, “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?” may be a better way to start a conversation. But whichever approach you choose, it is important to maintain an open dialogue with your children and be aware of their daily activities and what they are learning.
One way to do this is to make sure you and your child are never crunched for time. Being late just adds to stress, so make sure your child gets out of bed early and starts the school day with plenty of time.
Show your children how to reinterpret a bad day. Help them cultivate a sense of humor. Even better, laugh together. Laughter will raise serotonin levels to help find the solution.
Plan, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t change things if circumstances dictate.