“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Life often brings seasons of change. This fall, your family may be experiencing a season of change in transitioning back to school. Depending on the child, your son or daughter may face this new school year with anticipation or worry.
Lutheran Family Service Counselor, Lynette Aschinger, offers some helpful tips to make this a positive experience for your child. Aschinger shares that the most important aspects of parenting during the school year include maintaining predictability, healthy routines, adequate sleep, and supportive parenting.
To establish predictability, have conversations with your child about daily routines. Your child should know how to get to school, where to enter the school, as well as your plan for after school. Choosing to reassure your child, especially if he/she is the oldest or is attending a new school, may involve driving the bus route a week before schools starts, driving past the school, and meeting the bus driver and teacher.
Beyond the everyday routines, unpredictable situations should be discussed as well. If school is dismissed early due to inclement weather, your child should know where to go. If he/she becomes ill, knowing in advance which parent or another adult will be there to pick him/her up is crucial.
An often-overlooked component of school success revolves around a healthy dose of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that school-aged children (ages 6-13) should sleep 9-11 hours per night. It is best to begin this sleep schedule at least one week prior to school beginning.
As a supportive parent, there will often be opportunities for you to make deliberate choices in the best interest of your child. After a busy day of work, focus your attention on your child, not cooking supper or chores around the house. Children crave their parents’ attention—give him or her uninterrupted time to talk.
If you find that your child is struggling being away from you, slip a picture of you and him/her into their backpack as a tangible, ready positive reminder of your love. Additionally, you will want to build upon your child’s social skills by providing summer opportunities to interact with friends. Attending a sporting event, even if it’s not your favorite sport, will provide time for your child to interact with other kids his or her age.
Above all else, pray for your child!
Consider choosing a verse or verses to pray over your child’s day and future. If your child is especially anxious about the upcoming school year, consider Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Put their anxiety – along with yours – into God’s hands.
Brittany Skinner, Ministry Support Assistant for Lutheran Family Service and Former Teacher