With the start of school just weeks away, many parents already
are busy shopping for their children's school supplies, new clothes
and other essential items.
as important as getting them equipped for the new school year is
acknowledging the conflicting feelings some children may have about
school, according to Ann Hazzard, associate professor of pediatrics
and clinical psychologist at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital.
said parents of young children (6 and under) should recognize that
separation anxiety can sometimes be a problem--especially on the
first day of school. She said children this age use parents as
a human security blanket and may feel anxious about being separated
from a parent for a school day. Reassurances from parents that
children will be OK and keeping goodbyes relatively brief are strategies
extended goodbye and prolonged reassurances, if a child is upset
at transition time, generally prolong rather than shorten the child's
distress," Hazzard said. "Often parents hear from teachers that,
after they left, the child stopped crying within five minutes."
children's distress persists, giving them a transitional object
to remind them of the parent may be helpful, Hazzard said. A locket
with a picture of the parent or a key chain is often reassuring.
And because a child's anxiety is most pronounced with the primary
caregiver, Hazzard also suggested having the other parent or a
trusted neighbor handle transportation for a period of time to
lessen the child's difficulty with transition.
also should recognize that some children are shy and concerned
about whether a friend will be in their class this year.
challenge of making new friends and finding one's place in a new
classroom can be intimidating," Hazzard said. "It is helpful for
parents to acknowledge that making new friends can be challenging,
rather than minimizing a child's realistic concerns. Having conferences
with the teacher and volunteering in the classroom also can help
parents gauge a child's social adjustment."
parents of children with learning challenges, the return to school
may be especially dreaded, Hazzard said. Parents can help meet
their child's special needs by working with school personnel to
obtain appropriate services and support.
alone can make the difference between a disastrous and successful
school year," she said.
- Get children back on a healthy, school-year sleep
putting them to bed at a reasonable time for at least a week
before school starts. Remember, children need more sleep than
adults. Most elementary-age children need 10-11 hours of sleep
each day. Lack of sleep frequently causes problems with attention,
irritability and learning.
- Buy school supplies together. Let children
have choices about notebook colors and other items. This is
a fun way to help them get excited about school and be prepared.
- Meet the child's teacher. Most schools offer
open houses or meet-the-teacher opportunities before the first
day of school. This can be reassuring to students and parents
- Maintain children's academic skills and interest over
the summer. Everyone needs a vacation, but it is
helpful for children to keep their minds actively engaged
in learning at least part of the summer.
- Go to the library and check out books to read for
flashcards are a great way to practice math facts. Often an
incentive, such as a trip to an amusement park, helps motivate