August is here, and for some students, this is the dreaded countdown to losing their summer freedom, while others excitedly await the beginning of a new school year. The change in routine can be difficult on kids, as well as parents, as the challenge of enforcing the transition begins. Parents: now is the time to start encouraging your kiddo to make a plan for change.
Many kids start off the school year being optimistic, thinking “things are going to be different this year”, “I’m not going to fall behind”, “I’m going to try to attend”, “I need to keep up with my homework”, etc. Often, they start off on this optimistic foot, making every effort to follow through with their intentions. However, for some, the motivation and effort decrease more and more each week. Change can be difficult for many and often it requires the actual desire to change, preparation of how to make this change, putting the plan into action, and being consistent in order to maintain.
5 steps to help prepare for school to start:
1. Stay active: Studies say that on average, students who struggle the most with the transition back to school are those who spent too much time indoors relaxing and not being active. The return to school can be overstimulating with educational as well as social aspects. Encourage kids to keep moving and engage!
2. Review the schedule: When kids know what classes they will be taking, their location, teachers, and peers in the course, this can decrease a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Having expectations of what a typical day might be can create a plan in their minds. Encourage kids to take a tour of the school, review the class material, talk to their friends about their schedules, and meet the school counselors!
3. Designate a study space: Identify a space where they can go to focus on their homework and only their homework. Even if this space is in their bedroom, de-clutter a designated area to decrease distractions (especially electronics) and chaos. Organized environment = organized mind!
4. Sleep: Most students need 8-10 hours of sleep per night in order to be fully alert and functional the next morning. If your kiddo needs to get up at 6am, they would need to go to sleep around 10pm. Honestly, most teenagers are staying up way past this time over the summer and even into the first few weeks back. Now is the time to start getting on a sleep schedule. Encourage them to go to bed an hour earlier and more importantly, wake up earlier. Finding a bedtime routine that decreases the use of electronics will help train their brain to be tired and triggers sleep mode! (Read a book, have a hygiene routine, organize backpack for the next day, plan their outfit, journal, sketch)
5. Develop a routine: Have a plan of action! School can be stressful; friends can be dramatic; extracurricular are activities overwhelming; and family events may be unpredictable. Creating an ideal routine to follow will help ease the transitions, increase productivity, and create stabilization.
I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done! Yes, the transition back to school can be difficult as change often is. It’s better to start off being proactive than constantly playing catch up and having ongoing struggles. For teens especially, these skills stimulate independence, communication, organization, time management, and a sense of control…which they all desire in some fashion!
If you or someone you know needs assistance in developing these skills, please reach out now for that added support.
Allison Kidd, LMSW, LAC
Resolve Counseling & Wellness