By Dr. Karyn Gordon
Whether your kids are starting JK or university, these tips can help make transitions a success!
Tip #1: Encourage Involvement
For kids / teens to be engaged in school – they need to feel like their school is their place of belonging. So this month as new opportunities arise for students to participate in their school – encourage your kids to get involved. Getting involved is one of the simplest ways for them to feel connected and a part of their school! Just work with them to make sure they don’t over-commit!
Tip #2: Talk About ‘What to Expect’
Be sure to talk with your kids about what they should be expecting this next year (especially kids who struggle with anxiety). A lot of kids / teens do not like surprises so the more you can talk in advance, and in a positive way about what they will expect, the better!
Tip #3: Start Traditions
Starting a new school year is a new chapter in their life – so it’s great to help incorporate some new traditions into the mix. Ask your kids (regardless of age) what kind of traditions they would like to make as part of each school year. These could be traditions that happen only in September (i.e. school shopping in September) or creating a regular weekly event. One family with 3 teens I worked with decided (with their teens) to make Sunday nights their ‘family night’ with pizza, popcorn and a movie. Not only did it create a great family bonding experience, it also forced the teens to get themselves organized in advance for the coming week! My boys started JK this week and we have already started our first tradition! I had tried asking them questions about how school was going but after a couple of days I only heard 1 word answers such as ‘great’ (I’m sure many of you can relate). But then I discovered a wonderful new tradition! After our walk home, my one son asked to have a snack on our front porch. I’ve known for a long time that boys in particular tend to talk more over food and apparently 4 year-olds are no exception! So while enjoying their snack, sitting on the front porch, I was shocked at how much information they shared.
Tip #4: Talk About Creating Great Habits
One of the key elements to make school a success is for kids / teens to develop great habits – sleeping, eating, homework & study habits are all important. Ask your kids what habits they did well last year and which ones do they want to work on this year. Focus first on sleeping & eating (the most relevant at the beginning of school). Ask them how they would want their habit to “look” this year. What time do they need to go to bed & wake in the morning so they feel rested and relaxed? Once they’ve mastered these basic skills, brainstorm with them the other habits they want to develop!
Tip #5: Ask About Their Friends
Often parents just ask about school & homework. However for most kids/ teens the social part of school is often the most important. So remember to ask questions about their friends. Who are they the closest to? Who are they hoping to hang out with the most with this year? Who did what during the summer? Talking about their friends will likely get them talking more openly with you.