Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking - "it's August! We've got a whole month left" - and you're right, you sure do. Last year's back to school post (read it here) was published in September and I received some feedback wishing that it was shared sooner. So, here we are.
Regardless of the month, you're in for a treat with this newsletter. Krystal Crawford, MHC, one of the newest therapists at the Rochester Resiliency Center, is sharing her wisdom about prepping for back to school. Krystal has worked as a school counselor for several years, so she seemed like a natural fit to share her tips for supporting adolescents going back to school. If you're looking for some tips for younger kiddos, check out last year's post here.
I'll leave it to Krystal, but as always - thanks for reading!
It feels like summer has just begun, but the stores are advertising their “back to school” sales and it's a reminder that going back to school is right around the corner. Getting back into a routine after what was probably a more relaxed, less structured day can bring about different feelings. For me, having worked years as a School Counselor, I know that the transition back, no matter how ready I feel, is stressful.
It's important to take into consideration how your adolescent can prepare for the transition back and what to expect.
1. Prepare- Get into routines and practice those beforehand. Avoid rushed mornings by getting things ready the night before. The ease into the routine in days leading up to the first day of school can help your adolescent slowly adjust back to the school schedule.
2. Process feelings- Talk about what to expect with the transition back and anticipate what feelings they may experience. Common feelings may include excitement, worry, anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. Validate that all of those feelings are normal and allow them to talk about those while actively listening. Help your adolescent problem solve any stressors they may have.
3. Sleep- We can all relate with having to get back into a different sleep routine and how exhausting the adjustment feels. It can take weeks to feel the sleepiness subside. Being more tired also impacts mood and performance. It's okay to expect more frustration, irritability or tearfulness. Being tired can affect your adolewcent’s ability to self-regulate. It's important to get back into a healthy sleep routine if that has changed over the summer. Again, practice easing into an earlier bedtime in the weeks before school starts.
4. Have fun- Continue to find time to do family activities in the evening or on weekends. It can give your adolescent something to look forward to, and then it won't feel like fun summer activities have ended abruptly just because school has returned.
5. Self-care- Schedules can get busy and finding and taking time for self-care can feel more difficult. Help support and encourage healthy habits so that managing stress and emotions feels more doable.
It's important to consider these points when returning to school, but also keep in mind bigger transitions, such as if your student is entering a new school or different school building than they are used to. These transitions might feel more intimidating than just the adjustment back to a routine. It will be important to talk through concerns and problem solve so that they feel more prepared to know what to do when faced with different emotions. Stay positive and pass along words of encouragement and confidence. Get help if needed and find those you can connect with that can relate.
Hope that helps!
Krystal Crawford, MHC