After Back-to-School: Adjusting to New Routines

New Responsibilities, New Teachers, and Your Child

Now that school is back in session, there are new routines, responsibilities, and facts of life that your child will have to adjust to. Even if you spent the last few weeks of summer perfecting your back to school routine, and you’ve made sure to mitigate as much back to school stress as possible, adjusting will still take some time.

From a new schedule to new responsibilities, here are a few of the things you should be aware of when you’re helping your school-age child get a great start to the new school year.

 

Coping with changing responsibilities and privileges

As kids get older, their responsibilities at home and at school change. But, they might not fully grasp exactly what this means until the school year has already begun. They might have more homework, more chores, and more freedom.

That’s why it can be helpful to frame these changes as responsibilities and privileges. For example, your high schooler might get the privilege of driving to school, but will now also be responsible for a particular set of new household chores.

Your children should be involved in this process, too. If they can assume some ownership of their responsibilities and privileges they’ll cope with those changes more effectively, since they were involved in the decision making.

 

Handling stressful teacher changes at school

Another stressful part of the back to school season that isn’t always immediately apparent are the changes and challenges that come with new teachers. Psychology Today author Susan Stiffelman sums up this potential minefield well: “Some children naturally embrace change, eagerly weaving new people into their lives. But many kids form attachments slowly and cautiously, making the challenge of bonding with a new teacher an additional stressor when the school year begins.”
If your child is the latter you could meet informally with the teacher outside of classroom time, with your child in tow. This should be a casual meeting — try talking about things your child is interested in to help build camaraderie.

You can also ask your child what went well in class at the end of the day to emphasize focusing on the positive. Even if it’s something small like, “The teacher smiled at me this morning”, identifying the good stuff can help make a new teacher less scary.

If you’re still stumped, this article from Parenting.com is also full of extremely useful information: 5 Smart Ways to Handle Teacher Troubles.

 

The importance of listening to your children

Change can be both scary and exciting, especially where school is concerned. More than anything else, the best way to help your child adjust and cope is to listen to what they have to say.

I really love the way Rachel Simmons, the author of the book “Enough as She Is” frames things by saying, “It’s so important not to try to minimize your child’s feelings about what’s happening. Children of any age want to know that their feelings matter … You don’t have to worry that you will exacerbate [their] feelings by validating them. You will actually make [him or her] feel more comfortable and capable of managing them.”

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