It’s that time of year that kids can’t stand and many parents think “couldn’t have come soon enough” – back to school!
But before all you moms (and dads) breathe that heavy sigh of relief that the kids are out of your hair, remember, that “back to school” can bring its own set of anxieties and issues, that can leave you longing for the “summer blues.”
So, here in no particular order are 7 of the most common back to school issues, and what you can do about them.
- Separation Anxiety – For kids going off to school for the first time, and even for older kids who’ve enjoyed more time with the family during the summer, leaving mom or dad behind to go off to school can be scary and sad. If you suspect your child will suffer separation anxiety when they go to school this year, the Mayo Clinic recommends spending time apart before summer ends and touring the school together before the big day.
- Getting Back Into the Routine – From grade schoolers to teens, coming off a summer of sun and fun, it is always difficult to get your kids back into the “morning routine.” These issues are best solved by not waiting until the night before the first day of school to start getting your kids to bed at a decent time, and up for school. Try starting your “schoolyear schedule” a few days before the first day.
- When Your Child’s Main Social Group Changes – Change can be tough for kids, especially in school. Maybe they are going to a new school, or advancing into upper grades and leaving some close “BFFs” in lower grades behind, or they are starting in a new club or other extracurricular groups. Whatever the situation, September can bring with it significant changes to a child’s social scene — and a bad start can lead to a rough grade-long experience. Teachers and guidance counselors suggest that parents should be aware of the new friendships and keep an eye on them to a certain degree, just to see if they are healthy relationships. If a friendship doesn’t seem healthy, talk to your child about why you’re concerned, but don’t blame their new friend. If a child understands what a healthy friendship looks like and why it benefits them, they’ll be more likely to seek those out and avoid friendships that could hurt them.
- Tech Time – For students of almost all ages, technology can be a back to school issues with two sides of the same coin – too much or too little. Believe it or not, in this day and age, there are still students who struggle with the use of technology. Parents can help these students by finding out what technology will be required by a given teacher in a given class beforehand and making sure your kid is up on how to use the particular hardware or software. But, for most parents, the problem is too much tech. Wanting to be online or on the phone all of the time, distracts from academics, especially coming off of a summer of almost unlimited use. You have to help your kids find balance. Social media and technology is part of your kid’s lives. So, its never a good idea here to take tech away entirely. Also, social media and technology is increasingly a part of every business, so, believe it or not, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are skills kids are going to need for the future. So, instead, you need to talk to your kids about limits and responsible use at school and at home.
- Over Scheduled – All the experts agree that having your kid involved in extracurricular activities is a good thing. However, with all that today’s students have on their plates today — especially Middle School and High School students — it is very easy for them to get “over scheduled” and overwhelmed. Teach your kids some time management skills. Also, guidance counselors suggest, to start out the term with only a few extracurriculars, and slowly add more on later, as you child adjusts. This is especially true for a student transitioning to a new school, or upper grades with more responsibilities.
- Homework – Kids have been complaining about too much homework since the time of one-room schoolhouses! However, sometimes it is really true. If your child feels they have too much homework, talk about why they feel that way before talking to the teacher. According to the National PTA, parents should determine if homework complaints are really due to volume — or if there’s something else at play.
- The School Hater – And finally, we have all had to deal from one time or another with that kid that “hates school.” The experts agree that kids who say they “hate school” are often having problems socially or academically. It’s very common for kids to stay silent when they are struggling with learning or are having social issues, or maybe even a problem with bullying, so encourage your kids to speak up.
Kids and parents face a lot of struggles during the back-to-school season, but the experts all agree the first step toward a good year for you both is for parents to get involved and stay involved. The more you are a participant in your child’s education and school life this September, the likelier they will be happier to return the next one!