“It is never too early to start talking with and listening to your child about the upcoming school year,” says Dr. Amie Duncan, Ph.D., Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Dr. Duncan advises that parents begin talking to their child about school a couple weeks before it starts, and that they listen closely for their child’s fears or concerns. “About 4-6 weeks before school starts, the process of transitioning from summer to school should be underway,” she says.
“It is important that parents listen to and respond to their child’s potential anxieties about the new school year, especially if they are making a big transition such as from an elementary school to a middle school. It is perfectly normal to experience first day jitters,” she says. These feelings can be relieved with some of the suggestions below.
- For kids in kindergarten, parents should take them to visit their school and let them play on the school’s playground, walk through the classroom and meet their new teachers before school starts. Take your child on a school shopping trip, and allow her to help choose a backpack, notebooks, and/or pencils needed for school.
- Even middle school goers need some preparation for their new year. Parents should encourage their child’s participation in at least one extracurricular activity or school club. Let the child choose the activity.
- Children who are involved in such activities generally do better academically, have better social relationships, and are more confident, resilient, and happier. Make sure they are involved in some activities but don’t let them get over-loaded!
- When children reach high school, parents should help their teen set realistic goals on how to earn the best grades and complete assignments.
- For kids of all age, the most important things parents can do it to keep the lines of communication open. Ask questions about what’s going on in your child’s life and listen closely them.
SOURCE: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center