Your children just started school again and you may be wondering how to help them with their back-to-school jitters. Here is a quick refresher course on dealing with new friends, new teachers, and new challenges.

Give Children Time to Adjust
Don’t be too concerned if your child is worried about starting school. It is normal and all children need some time to adjust to new situations. Let your child know that it is normal to feel nervous and that soon everything will be routine. Some children may even show physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches. Most of the time this can be chalked up to a case of the jitters, but if you are concerned it is something more serious, be sure to talk to your pediatrician.

Be There
Be there for your child to talk to. That could mean making special arrangements to make sure you are home at the end of the school day for the first day or week or making more time for your child in the evening. Make sure to find out exactly what is worrying your child. It will help you help your child deal with the stress, and it also lets he or she know that you are there for them.

Making the Unfamiliar Familiar
If your child is starting a new school, arrange for a visit beforehand. Tour the school grounds and let your child get used to things before the first day of class. Make sure to attend back-to-school night and meet your child’s teacher. Your child will be more comfortable meeting the teacher for the first time with you there.

Be Prepared

  • Begin a consistent school-night routine before school starts to make the transition easier.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.
  • Provide good, healthy breakfasts.
  • Put together a calendar with important dates such as when assignments are due, when tests are given, and any extracurricular activities.
  • Help your child write down important information such as class schedules, classroom numbers, locker combinations, and teachers’ names.
  • Have everything ready the night before school starts. Help your children lay out the clothes they will need and have their backpacks ready to go — except for the bologna sandwiches; you can keep those in the fridge.
  • Make sure you know all the details. Is there a dress code? How much do school lunches cost if you’re child isn’t brown bagging it? Are any special supplies are needed for PE or art classes? When and where does the bus stop if your child is taking the bus?
  • Check to make sure your children have received all of their required immunizations. If your child has any special needs or allergies, be sure the school knows.

After School
If nobody will be home after school, arrange for after-school care for your child. The arrangements will depend a lot on your child’s age and maturity. If your children are old and mature enough to be home alone, make sure you set clear rules about when they should be home by and who is allowed in the home. It is also a good idea to provide alternatives to watching TV, playing video games, and hanging around. After school activities can be a good option. Children who are left unsupervised too much often are at a higher risk of getting into trouble.

Handling Homework
Ugh. Homework. Who doesn’t hate the after-school fight? But homework not only helps children develop book smarts, it also trains them to make and meet goals, finish projects, and manage their time — all of which are important life lessons.

You can help your children succeed by making sure that there is a quiet place to work. Eliminate any distractions like the TV or cell phone texting. Review their work at the end of the night to make sure they understand everything, but don’t do the homework yourself!

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