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How can I get excited about the new school year?

I get to enjoy summer break with my kids since I only work part-time. This year, I’m feeling blue that my kids are going back to school. How can I get excited about the new school year? I get to enjoy summer break with my kids since I only work part-time.

Establish YOUR Independence

Remember our role as a parent is to teach our kids, ways to become independent slowly, so that when they are forced into the big bad world someday (as in their dorms), they have learned the skills from you to handle tough social situations. So when your kids go back to school every year, think of it as a continuum of that learning process. They will have to make decisions, when you are not around to lead them by the hand. Let’s hope that all the interaction they had with you during the summer strengthened their skills to handle peer pressure during the school year, so you can one day pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Aditi Dutt
Family Education Specialist
Bon Secours
Mother to a 12-year-old son, Ankush

Acknowledge Your Feelings

The new school year prompts a myriad of emotions for most parents. After a wonderful summer together, the specter of routines that include rising early and packing lunches can fill us with dread! More acute, though, is the seasonal reminder that our children are on the verge of another phase in their lives. Our feelings are mixed. We’re excited; our children will accomplish new milestones. We’re worried. Will they feel secure? Are we ready to let teachers and others become important players in their lives? We know they will be different by this time next year. We are aware that a special, much-too-brief time in our children’s lives has ended.

One healthy coping strategy is to acknowledge sadness, maybe some grief, and be gentle with ourselves. This is a good time to take a proactive approach. Here are some tips.

Be upbeat. Try not to communicate sadness to your child. He or she has enough worries. Children may worry about having to take naps, toileting accidents, finding friends or managing fasteners on their clothing. Take a deep breath, and help your children focus on things you know they will like. By teaching children coping strategies, we support their emerging social and emotional competence. We cope by looking to other adults for support, not adding our worries to our children’s worries.

Embrace change. Soon, you can do some of the things you’ve been putting off. Don’t feel guilty about looking forward to that. Generate a list of things that you are free to do now, such as having time with a friend, going to the gym, taking an art class, painting a room, completing a project. This is the perfect opportunity to create that book of memories you’ve been planning.

If younger siblings remain at home, look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with them.

Shop for school supplies. Celebrate savings when you avoid the last minute rush and the extra expense that comes with it. Involve children in planning lunches and creating a cozy, organized, technology-free study space.

Sneak a peek at the new classroom. Meet the teacher. Find out how you can be helpful. Developing a relationship with the teacher will reassure you and your child.

Ease into the transition. Role play the first day, getting ready, saying goodbyes, returning home. Develop a secret see you later routine (kisses to save in a pocket and use when needed during the day, for example).

Introduce structure early, so that the first day won’t be so emotional. Begin to go to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier.

Expect the inevitable. Everyone may be cranky and needy for the first few weeks. Plan to be available, emotionally and with your time. Pamper each other a little, carving out time to recharge before the rush to complete the next task.

Most importantly, remember, this is a see-you-later time – not goodbye.

Carole Whitener
Program Head and Professor of Early Childhood Development
Tidewater Community College
Chesapeake

About Tidewater Parent Staff

One of our staff who provides news and information for families in Hampton Roads.

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