The Best of Times or the Worst of Times? — Back to School Tips

It’s that time of year again…Back to school season is upon us.  Whether your child views the start of the school year as a new adventure with fun times ahead or would rather stay in permanent summer vacation mode, here are some back to school tips sure to ensure you make this beginning of the school year the best one yet for your family.

Attitude is Everything

Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

That couldn’t be more telling than at the beginning of a new school year.  Your child’s attitude about school in August and September can set the tone for the whole year.  If your son or daughter is excited about going back to school, try to reinforce that excitement by doing some fun things with them to help build up to the big day.

  • You could sit down with your child and help them make some top ten lists of what they are looking forward to in their new grade, what they are hoping to learn, or what they think they will like about their new teacher.
  • Your child can blow up several balloons with a strip of paper in each one.  On each strip of paper write a fun activity to do together.  It may be as simple as going shopping for school clothes, having their favorite meal for dinner, or having family game night.  For the last week of their summer vacation, let them pop one balloon each day to reveal the special activity they will get to do.
Turn Those Frowns Upside Down

If your child’s attitude toward the start of school is more one of anxiety or dread than excitement and enthusiasm, getting to the root of what is causing their stress can make all of the difference.

You may need to enlist the help of others to get to the bottom of it since your child may be reluctant to share their concerns with you, or may just not be sure exactly why they don’t want to go back to school.  Having them write or draw about their feelings, or asking a sibling or other family member, one of their friends, or a neighbor or other adult they trust to casually talk to them about their thoughts on the new school year may help.

It may be that your child is sad about the end of summer more than worried about the beginning of school.  Perhaps there was a family vacation they really enjoyed or a special team sport or other group they participated in that they are disappointed to leave behind.

Here is what you can do:

  • Try to recreate at least parts of what brought them such joy.  Put together a little slide show of photos from the family vacation and share memories of what made it so special, or make some food that they enjoyed like s’mores from a camping trip for example.
  • As a family, talk about possible places you may go on your next vacation or even start making more concrete plans if you are able — like marking the date on the calendar and starting to count down the days.
  • If there is a special team or group they participated in that they are sad to see come to an end, try to make plans for the kids to get together on a weekend especially if some of them will be going to different schools.
New Teacher Anxiety

The fear of the unknown can cause just about anyone to be a little unsettled.

If your child is nervous about their new teacher, try talking to other parents you know to see whose children might have had that teacher before.  Ask the families for any advice they may have for being successful in the class.

Speak to the principal or guidance counselor asking them about the strengths of your child’s teacher or anything special that they know usually happens in their classroom.  You may want to email or talk to your child’s teacher from last year.  Sometimes teachers are involved in helping to place students in classes, and he or she may be able to tell you why they think your child is a good fit for that classroom.

Attend open house with your child if possible to put them at ease and let them meet their teacher before school starts.

Make a worry jar where your child can write down things they are worried about for the new year. Revisit the jar a few weeks into the school year.  If there are any worries that haven’t come true, invite your child to tear them up and throw them away.  If there are any worries that are still bothering your child, talk to them about them and, if need be, schedule a conference with your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to try to address their concerns.

Who Says the Fun Ends Once School Starts?

Break those school fears and be rewarded as the school’s coolest mom by initiating a little scavenger hunt at your child’s new school.  After asking your principals permission, place clues around the common areas of the school: restrooms, the office, cafeteria, gym, art or music room, computer lab, library, etc.  Perhaps even invite a few of your child’s friends to join in the fun.

Be sure to make to last clue include something fun that the kids get to do for completing their mission. This will most certainly calm your child’s new school year fears.

Back to School Tips

After all, school is not just a place for rigorous academic structure but, a place where your child should have the freedom to be relaxed, focused and most importantly to have fun! Trying some of these fun tips might take a little extra effort, but you may come to find that they can make all the difference to your child and make back to school one of the best times of the year.

By Hampton Roads Moms Contributor: Marisha Wright.
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