Where does the summer go?
For students, parents, teachers and school-based therapists, it’s time to hit the ground running with the start of another academic year. How can you help families cope with what can be a very stressful time, if not handled with preparation and care?
Ease the Transition
Before school starts, use your school website or other means to give parents tips on making the transition from summer vacation to structured school days as pain-free as possible:
- Be sure children are in good physical and mental health. The start of a new school year is a good time for medical and dental checkups. Parents can use this opportunity to discuss any school-related concerns with their pediatricians. Primary care physicians are the first point of contact to determine if any issues are normal and age appropriate, or may require further assessment. As a school psychologist, you’ll want to be looped in to any treatment plans that may be recommended for the coming months.
- Include pertinent information on school counseling services in materials being sent to parents as the year begins. Encourage parents to review all the material they receive from their children’s school so they can get organized and be aware of important dates, deadlines, and all the supplies students need for the first days and weeks in their new classroom.
- Recommend the start of school year routines. These include mealtime and bedtime schedules, which ideally should be set in place about a week before school starts – but it’s never too late to get this on track. Remind parents to reinforce the message that these schedule adjustments are for their children’s benefit; they are not punishment.
- Help parents familiarize their children with school. Especially if students are young or starting a new school, invite families to visit ahead of time. Meeting teachers and therapists, locating classrooms, lunch rooms, lockers and other important areas, and having their questions answered, will ease anxiety about their new environment.
The First Week of School
Parents should adjust their own schedules to accommodate the first week or two of their children’s year. Parental involvement in helping children acclimate to their school routine can be key in averting confusion or anxiety. Parents should be advised to:
- Provide calm, reassuring messages to keep children’s stress manageable.
- Leave plenty of extra time. Lunches can be made and clothing and supplies laid out the night before. Alarms can be set 15 minutes early to avoid rushing.
- After-school structure is important, too. Parents should review with their children what to do if they get home and no one is there. These directions should be very specific, especially with younger students. They should put a note in their backpack with names and numbers of people they can contact, as well as their own numbers.
If Parents Need You
Some children may exhibit extreme signs of anxiety, stress of other learning or psychological difficulties. Make sure they know who and where you are, and how to reach you, as the 2015/16 school year is set in motion. You can be their most valuable resource and their children’s key to academic success.
For additional ideas to get the school year off to a strong start – and to formulate your successful school-based therapy career plan, contact the expert team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.