Posted: 12:58 pm Thursday, August 14th, 2014

With at least a week of school behind you, how did you do? 

By Gracie Bonds Staples

Whether starting their first day of Pre-K or their last year of high school, back-to-school season can stir feelings of anxiety, stress and even fear in our kids. Good news. “There are resources available that parents and kids can use to help the transition go a little more smoothly and help to boost success throughout the school year, says Kari Collins, director of mental health services at the Montefiore School Health Program.

She offers the following tips to help you and yours have a smooth start to the new school year:

Lead by example:

  •  Children can sense when their parent is anxious so remain upbeat and optimistic when talking about the new grade or school – highlight how exciting it is to meet new people and make new friends.
  • Let your child know that being nervous is a normal feeling and that they will feel more comfortable as time goes on. Share examples of how you felt during your first day at school or a new job and explain that these feelings can be overcome.

Practical parenting

  •  For preschoolers, set up group play-dates with other children to help them prepare for their new shared environment.
  • For pre-k and elementary kids, teach them how to introduce themselves to new people. Role play and practice saying “Hi, my name is Jane; what’s yours?” Of course it’s important to emphasize the difference between talking to peers and strangers.

Teen troubles

  •  While many parents get the impression their teen wants to handle things on their own, it’s important to know what’s going on in your child’s life and offer support and guidance. Get to know the parenting coordinator at school, register for email updates to be alerted about exams, college fairs, application deadlines and big sporting events. Sign up to receive the academic calendar and make sure you check-in with your teen when an important date is approaching so you can offer assistance and let them know you’re there for them.
  • Let your child choose one after-school activity. They may want to join the cheerleading squad while you want them to join the math club. Provide support and guidance, with the final decision being the result of compromise and what makes most sense for your teen’s schedule and level of commitment.
  • High school can be the most trying time of all, with more intense academic pressures and a new peer group, it can take longer to adjust. If you’re still concerned about your teen’s ability to cope with their new environment after the first month of school, seek out resources and assistance from the guidance counselor.
  • Help middle and high-school kids feel comfortable expressing their frustrations and stress. And, work on a plan together to make their commitments more manageable.

With at least a week behind you now, maybe you’ve learned something worth sharing with the rest us?

8 comments
TSentell
TSentell

This would be a great school if it weren’t for the fascinating nervous parents. In another school there was an exasperating mother who roamed around the building during the school day, sometimes carrying around her little dog. Sometimes she wore her pajama pants. She never paid attention to her hair, but she did her son’s homework perfectly. Nobody could do their jobs because she’d demand a parent-teacher conversation right then and there.


We’d often find her aimlessly rifling through her son’s locker. Sometimes she’d complain in detail about her husband to you. She repeated all of her stories. I got the husband story one time, two days in a row, word for word. She never knew when to stop talking. You literally had to walk away from her. It was finally time for action. We agreed that the first teacher to see her walking around the building would e-mail all the other teachers that she was in the building.


I learned at lunch one day where everybody hid or what they’d say to her if they got caught out in the open. If you were a fly on the wall when that woman moped into the building you would have thought all the teachers had horrific urinary or bowel afflictions.


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Todd’s teaching memoir, “Can’t Wait to Get There. Can’t Wait to Leave,” at corkscrew turns hilarious, heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, will be published this fall by Stairway Press.



RichardKPE
RichardKPE

One more piece of advice for the high schoolers:


As an electrical engineer, there are two courses offered in high school that teach material that is directly relevant to the skills needed in my job: Pre-Calculus (your school might call it trigonometry) and Physics.  So if I had to hire a high school senior, I'd obviously start by looking at those two courses and find the students with the best grades, right?  WRONG!


If forced, I would rather give a blind offer to the editor of the school newspaper.  


Food for thought.

DBOrig
DBOrig

"Let you child choose one after-school activity."  Interesting concept, but ultimately unrealistic.  Kids have all sorts of interests, and sometimes the after-school activities are the only place to explore those interests.  Photography for the yearbook staff, trying their hand at writing for the newspaper, scratching a latent acting bug in a school play, playing in a marching band, or joining a club based on interests in conservation, charity work or job interests -- there are so many options in high school. Add to that the fact that so many teenagers enter the part-time work force, and they then have to juggle expectations from school, home AND work. I think a better approach would be to teach children how to manage their time, help them find a time-management routine that works for them (a calendar, either paper or on their phone or computer, time-blocking, looking ahead at exam schedules, etc.) and be able to help them practice decision-making on how the things they want to do fit into the time they have available.  Simply saying, "ONE ACTIVITY ONLY" takes that decision-making away from them -- as well the the valuable experience of learning to juggle.  A college-bound kid is severely handicapped if they do NOT know how to manage their time realistically, and that takes practice.

JNuckols
JNuckols

ok, this is what is wrong with a lot of things.


in the 60's and 70's when i went to school.....you got your notebook and pens, clean uniform and knew you were going to school and what was to be expected.  you made friends or so the first few days of school.  i guess we didn't have any many problems or phobias as kids have now, but then we spent all summer playing with kids in the neighborhood and tv wasn't 200 channels 24/7.


LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Learned:  Teens still do not like waking up early. 

RealKat
RealKat

I was wondering the same thing. A parenting coordinator? Since it's from another source, perhaps that source has such a thing, but it's a new concept for me.

NewName
NewName

I have worked in a high school for the past 17 years and have friends in education in many different counties and states. 


I have NEVER heard of a "parenting coordinator." Where did THAT come from?

RealKat
RealKat

@DBOrig Agree with you completely. Juggling (to an extent) is important. Over-burdening kids with activities is detrimental.