- There are emotional readiness needs for both parents and children with the school year approaching.
- Changing schedules can put stress on individuals and families. Below are some ideas for how to prepare and move through the change.
- Don’t forget to use the resources available to you to make this school year a success.
As the school year approaches and the summer winds down, there might be some shifting feelings and expectations within you, your child, and/or your household. Even though the summer-to-school and school-to-summer transition has become a relatively consistent part of the year for families with school-aged children or teachers, it is natural for it to feel that it has “come too soon” or “snuck up on us.” Despite its normalized status in our society, switching between one mode and another mode is a transition, and transitions can be a challenge for everyone.
It is important in any transition to recognize what the needs of the individual or group involved are. In the case of going back to school, the default assumption might be that this is a transition that the child alone is experiencing. However, this transition impacts the whole family unit – parents and non-school-aged children as well.
This transition might impact the frequency of communication or hours spent together: which could lead to feelings of abandonment or loss. It might impact the time of shared meals or even the types of groceries available: which could lead to feelings of emotional dissonance and distance. It might even mark the beginning of the end of being a child living at home before moving away for college, jobs, service organizations, or another transition.
Much of the changes that come with going back to school can be tangibly recognized in shifts in schedule. Below are some ideas for how to prepare and move through the change.
- Create a shared digital or physical calendar that everyone involved can access and add to. Make it fun – give everyone their own color, add stickers or cut-outs from magazines. Planning doesn’t have to be logistical and grueling…it can be a time to create and connect!
- Schedules will shift, and it helps to accept this before the fact. Creating a shared digital or physical calendar can be helpful in managing these switches, but setting up some communication norms is another great tool.
- Examples of communication norms:
- “Everyone’s time has value. If something on your end gets canceled or rescheduled, let everyone involved know ASAP”
- “Gratitude’s the Attitude. Remember to thank the people that get you from point A to point B”
- “Don’t default to blame. Schedules can be messy and blaming someone or many someones does little to help”
- Examples of communication norms:
- Remember to acknowledge success and excitement. First days of school can be celebrated! First weekends can be savored. Look for opportunities to pause and celebrate this new beginning.
It is important to acknowledge that starting school can look and feel different to everyone. Starting the school year will hold different challenges and celebrations for families of and students with disabilities, students with alternative households, LGBTQ+ students, students that have jobs, students that are caregivers, and the list goes on. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the resources that are available through the state’s department of education, the resources that your individual school might have (don’t be afraid to ask for help!), and the resources in your community.
With any of these transitions and the emotional changes that come with it, it is imperative to take the time to think about how your life will change when the school year begins. Ask yourself what you might need from yourself, others, or your environment to make the upcoming transition as healthy as possible. Being in tune with your own needs and learning how to advocate for them is a cornerstone of cultivating your mental health. We hope that you will count Start My Wellness as one of your resources during the back to school season for developing these skills or processing this upcoming transition. Our clinicians work with children, families, and adults and are accepting new clients today.