After two months full of beach trips, ice creams, pool days, drive-in movies, cookouts, and backyard campings, it is time to pack the backpacks and return to school. Fall is always a busy and stressful season for parents, students, and all school personnel. Although we are faced with different challenges, we all experience mixed feelings and emotions about coming back to school. For us parents, it is finally a return to a set schedule and some form of a structure. However, we will again have to start packing lunches and become personal drivers for our busy kids.
We want what is best for them! Here are a few tips on how we can support our children in a mentally healthy back to school:
- Acknowledge mixed feelings: The past two years have been anything but usual, and coming back to school comes with extra stress this time. Some students are excited to go back fully in person; others are stressed, overwhelmed, or nervous. Normalize your children’s feelings and let them know it is okay to feel whatever they feel. Try not to judge their attitude and do not take it personally. Instead, be there for them and accept their emotions.
- Talk to your students about an upcoming school year: Have a family meeting and discuss their fears and hopes for this school year. Review their schedules, class expectations, morning routines, and any changes that will be happening. It is especially important if your student is a rising 6th or 9th grader. Answer all of their questions and actively listen to their concerns.
- Establish bedtime routines and daily schedules: It is hard for adults to adjust to working schedules after being on vacation and waking up late. Our kids need some time to adapt as well. Around 1-2 weeks before the first day back, move your child’s bedtime and wake-up time to how it was back in the school year. Quality sleep is one of the most important factors in mental well-being.
- Connect with the school: Depending on your student’s age and grade level, try reaching out to their teacher, school counselor, case manager, coach, or school club sponsor. Help them feel more connected to the school community and less anonymous. Attend Back to School Nights with your children, walk with them around the building, and see their classrooms. Knowing your students’ days and schedules will help you better understand their experiences.
- Plan a fun family End-Of-Summer Party: Choose some activities you and your children enjoyed the most this Summer and celebrate! Encourage your children to share their best memories and discuss plans for the next Summer. Have them something to look forward to and be excited about.
About Aleksandra Startek:
Aleksandra is currently a Resident in Counseling at Healthy Minds Therapy, actively pursuing her license (LPC). She provides in-person therapy services in our Fredericksburg location as well as via telehealth.
Aleksandra goes beyond “talk therapy” and she will incorporate a variety of different approaches and techniques, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution-Focused. Her goal is to create a therapeutic space that feels effective for you and meets your needs and goals. Clients consider her a person-centered counselor as she will focus on your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. To learn more about Aleksandra, visit HERE.