Change is tough no matter what–give your child time and a safe space to express his/her fears, concerns and excitement.
1. Go over their schedule and if possible have them visit, meet the teacher prior. Go back to your earliest memories of school–what did you feel when you revisited that time? What happened? Who was with you?
2. For children with special needs, alteration in scheduling can be difficult. Start transitioning morning rituals before you start school. Allow them to take an active part in designing their morning schedule.
3. Kids and teens need at least 8-hours of sleep (this may be reduced in pre-adolescence and adolescence as their brains and biochemistry change).
4. Parents need to monitor.
5. Ensure that you have a solid ritual when they get home. This can be the most difficult time of the day when kids have literally kept their “lids” all day. Allow them some structured down time with set expectations when home work will be started (we all need this after a hard day of work) before launching into homework.
6. It is recommended that they have healthy choices for snacks and plenty of water for hydration before they start home work if they do this before dinner. Remember most schools are feeding kids really early in the day–so many are tired AND hungry.
7. Recognize that triggers from the past school year ago be “triggered” again–whether that is bullying, teasing, academic issues with a certain teacher/peer group.
8. Discuss some safety plans/coping skills they can utilize during their day, if needed. Be prepared to remain proactive through awareness.
9. Remain aware of how many activities your child is involved in. Who are these activities for? Are they benefitting them at this time? If your child seems overwhelmed, tired, and stressed out–you may need to consider what extracurricular activities to scale back for the time being.
10. Recognize the signs of depression, anxiety and stress in children and teens. Ask a professional if you are unsure. Many times these can be masked as hyperactivity, hyper-vigilance, aggression and other behavioral issues if these behaviors are prolonged and begin to impact your child’s overall demeanor and personality.
11. Do not be afraid to be an advocate for your child. You know your child the best.
12. Ask the Lord for discernment, wisdom, and patience regarding when to step in or no.
Melanie Chung-Sherman, MSSW, LCSW, LCPAA