Whether it’s the first day of preschool or the first day of a doctorate program, starting a new school year is never easy. Those years when the transitioning encompasses not only another grade but also a whole new school seem to be the most difficult. Fortunately, family members can play an important part in helping the student transition more smoothly.
I have many friends going through the transition of sending their children to preschool or kindergarten for the first time. Despite the fact that this is often just as hard on the parents, it helps to put on a strong face and act excited for the child. If a child sees the parent wiping back tears, it will make it that much harder for him or her to walk into the classroom and watch Mommy or Daddy leave.
Small children often do better with easing into situations, whether that is the idea of a new sibling, a new school, or a new home. Working at home on letters, numbers, shapes and other such lessons a child will learn in school will give him or her more confidence. I already do this with my two year old, and he loves learning. It might also help to coordinate play dates with children whom you know will be in class with your child.
Beyond early education, starting middle school can make a child seem like an awkward fish out of familiar waters. I remember worrying about my appearance as I started seventh grade with braces on my teeth and untamed hair. Most children are terribly self-conscience at this age, and it helps for parents to build their self-esteem. Encourage your child to get involved in a sport, academic group, musical group, etc. once school starts. Involvement and close friends help everyone feel more accepted and at ease.
This is a good age to emphasize the importance of helping others belong as well. All children at this age have their own worries, and bullying is often highest among this age group. It also helps to get to know your children’s friends, as peer pressure and friends’ influence is very vital at this life stage.
Whether it’s the first day of preschool or the first day of a doctorate program, starting a new school year is never easy. Fortunately, family members can play an important part in helping the student transition more smoothly.
Starting high school is usually easier for a student than starting elementary or middle school. By now young adults have probably formed friendships and hobbies, finding their place in school. This is the time to help them balance having fun and having maturity. It is important to enjoy friends, sporting events, and extracurricular activities, but not to the point of neglecting the future.
Encourage your teenager to make good grades and start looking at college and work options. Taking a part-time or summer job may also help teach him or her responsibility. Help your child pinpoint the subjects and activities in which he or she excels and enjoys as a way of leading toward potential careers. I learned early on that I loved English and then flourished in writing and communications as I became older.
Finally there is college. Like in the beginning, this step is often just as hard on parents since the child often moves out. Try to find a healthy balance between letting your child know you are there to help with anything and becoming overbearing for fear of losing him or her. Make yourself available but not annoying. One Christian father mailed his daughter a letter of “life advice” every week throughout college. I watched an interview of the daughter who praised and thanked him for how this impacted the lives of her and her friends.
*Originally written for Kids Life Magazine.