Are some of your family members stressed about going back to school? Here are a few tips to get through the transition with confidence.
You’ve taken it easy during the summer, but the bell signaling the end of vacation has rung. No more late mornings; a more rigorous routine and daily schedule for the entire family, especially for your children, is about to begin!
The start of the school year shouldn’t be synonymous with stress. However, at the time of a pandemic, it’s completely normal for stress levels to move up a notch. Although many prevention methods have been implemented in schools, the risks of contamination by the coronavirus remain very real. To help preserve everyone’s health, we suggest that you read the following text: "Daycare, school and germs". Being well-informed about preventive measures and applying them rigorously can help reduce the stress related to a possible fear of the virus.
Here are ten tips for a smooth back-to-school experience.
Get plenty of sleep.
You are probably aware that a lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to stress. This is true for both children and adults. Your family may have gotten into the habit of going to bed late during summer vacation. It is time to re-establish a routine that will promote restorative sleep.
Time constraints are an important stress factor. In order to make your life easier and to avoid having to hurry, don't put things off until the last minute. Here are a few tips in this regard:
- Purchase school supplies (and clothes) several weeks before the start of school. Keep an eye out for back to school sales and you will decrease your financial stress as well!
- On the first day of school, get up a few minutes earlier so you won't have to hurry and risk being late. If you go to pick up your child after school, arrive a few minutes in advance to put your child's mind at ease.
Have a game plan.
A few days before school starts, revise the new school routine with your child. Establish simple, but clear, rules about what time to go to bed and what time to get up, the preparations, homework, etc. Caution: an overly rigid approach could cause unnecessary performance stress.
Reduce fear of the unknown and fear of change.
Fear of the unknown often increases stress inherent to change, including at the start of the school year. Several changes can cause a form of insecurity : new school, new teachers, new classmates, etc.
Visit the new school with your child, and if possible, have him/her meet the new teachers or show him/ her pictures. If your child must take the bus, consider accompanying him/her to the bus stop or find a friend who takes the same route.
Involve your child in the preparations.
Purchasing and labeling school supplies, family routine, preparing a school bag and lunch box are all opportunities to have your child participate in this unique transition—the start of the school year. Involving your child in this process will contribute to making him/her feel a sense of autonomy and safety.
Establish a health action plan, if necessary.
If your child has health problems or takes medication, speak to school staff. Find out what their guidelines are in managing medical problems and medication. Agree on an action plan and write it down, so that everyone knows what to do to contribute to your child's health and well-being.
Keep a positive and confident attitude.
Just like stress and anxiety, confidence is often passed on from parent to child. Your child watches you; your reactions and your behaviour influences the perception he/she has of events, and the emotions and feelings that follow. The start of the school year is a happy event that shouldn't be perceived as a threat. By your attitude, show your child that there is no need to worry.
Listen to your child.
When children return to school, they need fun, peace and harmony. Some signs may indicate that your child is having a difficult time: fatigue, irritability or mood swings, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal, etc. You know your child more than anyone, so stay attentive and observe, so you can intervene promptly if needed.
Celebrate the start of the school year.
Each school year represents an important and unique step of family life. Why not celebrate it, since it is a happy occasion? For instance, organize a dinner at the restaurant or a special family dinner to highlight the joyous event!
Use techniques that work to reduce stress.
If you feel anxious, remember that there are several recognized techniques known to help manage stress: deep breathing, visualization, meditation, yoga, etc. Why not discover one or several of them and invite your child to come with you?
We hope that the start of the new year will be filled with joy and tranquility!