4 Back to school tips for parents
Adjusting to the back to school routine can take just as much time, if not more, for parents as it does children and teachers. It is perfectly normal for parents to find themselves stressed about the new schedule, organising school supplies, separation from their children, preparing their child emotionally and all of this on top of possible work stressors and everyday life. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed with the juggling act, and you’re certainly not alone. Just know that with a little bit of planning and a few resilience building techniques you are capable of managing the stress and the transition into a new year for you and your child.
Help ease any worries of your child
Most parents find that allaying their child’s fears and uncertainty about a new year and nurturing a sense of calm confidence in their first weeks of school can help ease their own worries as well. Easier said than done, right? Resilience building programs recommend assigning fun tasks and activities leading up to and for the first few weeks of a new school semester. Spending quality time together as a family and making time available for interactive educational activities also helps build a positive mindset for children. Make preparing for school fun and take any opportunity to turn a chore or requirement into a fun game or positive experience.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs outline five key skills parent’s can help children develop in order to improve their cognitive functions and enhance their resilience: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision-Making. Lead from the front in these aspects and your child’s sponge-like brain is going to take notice.
There’s a lot to remember and organise during the school semester. Writing things down and planning in advance is going to make your life a lot easier and remove a main cause of stress, disorganisation. Get everyone involved by putting a big whiteboard up where you can write the kids’ activities, your must do’s and any evening commitments for the week. Empower the children by making a place on the white board where they can write down what they need at school (an upcoming excursion, paint for an art project) so they are learning the skills needed to enhance their own cognitive ability. This system encourages them to be organised as well, and teaches them to take at growing responsibility for making sure their needs are met. Get as much as you can prepared the night/week before any big events or requirements so that the stress of last minute running around can be avoided.
Take time for some self-care
Our intention is to support children to thrive, not just survive. It must start with us as their role models first. When we can debunk the ‘self-care is selfish’ myth we open up to being able to use powerful tools to improve wellbeing, such as the practice of self-compassion and gratitude. Take the time to ensure you schedule some ‘me time’ at least a few times during the week. This me time can take the form of physical activity, reading, meditation, listening to music or just sitting outdoors.
If you need help, ask
There are no prizes for doing it all yourself. The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ didn’t just come from nowhere. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed or in need of help, it is important to be able to delegate some responsibility and get emotional support from someone close to you. By organising and planning your school week activities in advance, you should be able to share school and child based responsibilities with your partner. If you are friends with other parents from your child’s school, organising a carpool to spread the responsibility of school pick-ups and drop-offs between other people you trust can remove a few hours of commute based stress immediately.
The best way to ensure you and your child have a smooth transition into the new school year is to plan, remain positive, set boundaries and make some time for yourself and your family outside of the mandatory school activities. By taking the lead and promoting the values of self-reliance, positive thinking, a growth mindset with planning and organisation, your child will have the best opportunity to develop their own resilience and make 2019 the most positive year yet.