Megan Bergfeld LCSW, ACM-SW
If you’ve been to any major retailers recently, it is obvious that the school year is right around the corner. Crayons, backpacks, and dorm decorations abound! This time of year can stir up all kinds of emotions for parents and children alike, regardless of age. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the increased anxiety many of us are feeling given the events of the past couple school years across the country.
First, let’s take a moment to express gratitude to summer. For the reset, adventures, family time – thank you! Now, let’s shift our focus to making the transition back to school as smooth as possible.
- Return to your school-year routine sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until the week of school to dust off the cobwebs. Sleep schedules, night-before prep, hygiene – get back in the groove at least a week before the first day.
- Allow your child (and yourself) to feel whatever they need to feel. Consider prompting a conversation about this a week or two before school: “I’m kind of sad summer is over” or “How are you feeling about fifth grade?” Listen, empathize, and ask how you can support them.
- Celebrate! Generate excitement. Turn your school supply shopping into a scavenger hunt. Make a fun breakfast or go for ice cream on the first day. For your college-age kid, encourage them to personalize their dorm room or send them a coffee gift card for their first week of classes.
- Get to know the people caring for your kiddos – teachers, principals, staff. Learn their names. Read their bios. Send them a message during the first week of school introducing yourself. This helps increase communication throughout the year.
- Get involved! If your schedule allows, prioritize attending school supply drop-off, open houses, or orientation events where you can see your child’s classroom or dorm. Sign up for newsletters. Follow the school on social media. School is where your youngster will spend most of their time over the next several months. Engagement helps turn the building into a community.
- Lastly, the most unpleasant piece – safety. Remind your kids daily how much you love them. Encourage them to listen to their teachers and pay attention in their drills. Familiarize yourself with the safety plans – ask questions and advocate for change if necessary.
How are you feeling about your child going back to school this year? If you would like to talk about this more, the Work/Life Connections-EAP team is here to support you. Call 615-936-1327 today to schedule your confidential appointment.