You may start to notice the days are getting shorter and shorter, at times you almost feel that cool September weather, and all of a sudden it hits you. School will soon be starting, which means you and your kids are returning to the seemingly endless cycle of homework, after school activities, and packed lunches. This is a period filled with a lot of unknowns which may bring lots of back to school jitters. For example, what will your kids’ new teachers be like? Will any of their friends be in their class? Who will they sit with at lunch? These are all very real concerns our children have and can be quite stressful for them. Taking the time before school starts to explore these stressors with your kids can be beneficial to starting the school year off right.
At this point in the child’s life, their biggest responsibility is their academics. Most are not worried about bills or taxes. There is pressure for students to perform well academically, as their education is what propels them into their future. This can put a lot of stress on students, who may not be adequately prepared to deal with that stress. There are many ways this stress manifests itself, but there are also many ways to conquer this stress.
Many students are developing their time management skills, and need to learn how to balance their school work, extracurriculars, family, and friends. It is important to make sure students are getting 8 hours of sleep, as the lack of sleep will affect their entire next day. If the student is staying up late to do work, their work will suffer and their mental health will suffer. If you are able to establish time during the day for the student to do work, their work will be better and their mental health will be stronger. It’s also important that students are taught about mental health in a healthy, positive way, and are taught about coping mechanisms and symptoms to look out for in themselves and in their friends. Building healthy mental health habits early on will serve them throughout their lives.
Depending on how long the child’s commute to school, it’s important to leave time so the student isn’t rushed going to class, as that can be an added stressor. It is not a good way for kids to start their days rushed, so have them leave ample time before school starts so they have time to do their morning rituals with a relaxed mind. A shower to start their day lets them feel clean. A splash of water is an easy way to help wake up your mind and body.
Creating time for a light bite to eat is an essential part of preparing for the rest of the day. Hunger is a distraction that can lower academic performance in the classroom while also keep the student low energy. They need energy and motivation for their school activities, and skipping out on eating hurts their stomach and their brains! Encourage them to eat healthy food, and bring snacks that will keep them full.
Letting the student visualize their schedule is an important organizational tool so they can keep track of their week. Any assignments, appointments, or classes should never be a surprise, as the student should know when their work is due or when they have events planned. A calendar book is a useful tool, or keeping a calendar up on the wall. Many students use their laptop, iPad, or cell phone calendar to track their schedule. Encourage them to be on top of their routine to help keep them prepared.
Most of all, students need to be supported by their friends, family, and school staff. When they are juggling their schedule, it is easy to feel down or stressed, and they will likely need the support of those around them. Being available to talk to can alleviate some of the negative stress that the student may be feeling, just from a simple conversation. Part of growing up and maturing is students learning to not bottle up their feelings and expressing themselves when something is bothering them. It is important to encourage open communication for students. Talk to your kids about their back to school jitters, and help them plan how they are going to deal with school stress during the year in healthy, positive ways. Sharpen those pencils, lace those shoes, and get ready for another year at school!