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5 Tips for a Successful Back to School

5 Tips for a Successful Back to School

by Spencer Lee, MSW Intern 

5 Tips For A Successful Back To School

Wow, it’s hard to believe that school starts again this month! Last year was challenging, to say the least. Kids and their parents may have experienced the most difficult transition navigating virtual learning and a loss of routines. So here are some tips for helping your child (and you) have a smooth and successful school year this time around.


1. Alleviate Uncertainty

So many times, we leave kids out of the loop. We don’t always let them know where they’re going, what to expect, or who they will see. It’s common for children to feel anxious when they don’t know what the future holds. Try talking to your kids about the upcoming school year and answering any questions they might have. Will they be attending in person? Will masks be worn? Are their friends attending school, too? Will homework be online this year?


Another helpful tip is to create and implement a consistent routine. This may include waking up, going to school, homework time, playtime, etc. Having a guide for the day will give your child the power of knowing exactly what to expect each day (and help them build autonomy).


2. Get Social

The year 2020 was one full of quarantine and social isolation. This is especially true for children who were learning from home because school is their most significant social event. School-aged children are in their prime for developing social skills, so it is imperative that they spend time with already established and new, soon-to-be friends. This year, encourage your child to spend time with their pals inside of school and out. You may consider having them join a community sport or activity to offer them a chance to make new friends. If schools return to virtual learning, you might also encourage video chat platforms (Zoom, Google Meets, etc.) to keep friendships strong.


3. Connect On Their Level

Children aren’t always the best at communicating their emotions or connecting with adults. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a question that’s received a response like, “I don’t know” or “It was good.” If you find your child responding as vaguely as possible, use more specific questions. Instead of asking “How was school?”, try “How was P.E?” and then use follow-up questions to dig deeper. You can also try suggesting a few emotions for the child to choose. Here’s an example, “Wow, that’s such a bummer your teacher gave the whole class silent lunch! I would have been feeling disappointed about not getting to talk to my friends during lunch. How were you feeling?” Kids don’t always enjoy having conversations with their parents, so it may be helpful to do so over an activity they enjoy, like playing their favorite game.


Have you ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? Well, we all have a preferred “language” of love and connection. For example, I feel most loved when I receive words of affirmation and quality time. There’s a quiz you can take to discover your love language. Sharing the results with those close to you can provide insight and greatly enhance the way you receive love or appreciation and show it to others. Well, it turns out that kids have love languages, too. Here, you and your child can take the love language quiz and learn what actions are most meaningful to each other.


4. Separating Home and Homework

Whether kids are in-person or virtual this year, creating a separation between their work life and home life is crucial. To the best of your ability, try to create a space where your child can do their school work away from the bedroom and where they spend the most leisure time. Creating this space can be as simple as putting their desk in an empty closet so you can close the doors after they’ve finished working. Other situational cues, such as using a particular lamp or chair only when it is time for schoolwork can be useful too; these cues will alert your child that it is time for academics. Avoiding the muddling of home life and school life for your child will allow them to focus more fully on the task at hand. It can be challenging to work on homework in the same room you play, talk to friends, watch tv, sleep, or eat.


5. Rely On Your Past Successes

Last year, we all did the best we could managing our day-to-day lives while surviving a global pandemic. That means you must have been doing some things right to be where you are today. Take a moment to reflect on lessons you learned during the last year or strategies you found helpful, and keep using those! These strategies may be increased communication with teachers, more quality time with your child, or being available for questions and support while they do homework.

Have a great year!