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5 Tips to Start the School Year Strong

A woman wearing jeans and a black backpack leaning against a brick wall waiting for school to start.

Back to school can be a time of excitement and new experiences. It is also a time in which we undergo a lot of change. Change to our schedules, change in habits, change in interests, change in environment, change in people, and more. While change can bring about opportunities of reflection and growth, it also commonly leads to stress and anxiety for what’s to come.

When individuals face uncertainty, it is easy to let our brains wander into the unknown which can lead us to thoughts that make us nervous for change or a new experience since we do not yet know what to expect. This is common when a new school year starts (or work year) for all ages. Below are a few strategies that can help you navigate large upcoming transitions, such as back to school, in ways that make both students and parents feel more prepared. 

  1. Talk about it! Make the start date a visual on the calendar and talk about both excitements and concerns for the year. 
  2. Get into a routine and practice it. Practice getting back into your school schedule by getting up early, brushing teeth, getting out, and/or setting aside time to read everyday. 
  3. Be in the know. Sign up for any school newsletters or informational programs that will allow you to be better aware of what resources, events, and activities your school provides. 
  4. Set up school supplies. Learn what you or your child needs for school supplies and start gathering them together. Many programs across the Chicagoland area donate school items to students and teachers. 
  5. Normalize difficulty of transitions. Last, we all face transitions in our life, both good and bad. Talking about how times of change can be difficult and normalizing this process may create feelings of additional support and decreased stress.

Incorporating routine, structure, and conversation in before times of change can help expose ourselves to the upcoming transition and feel less stress when the time of the transition begins. Helping students get in the routine of school before it starts can eliminate new challenges and set positive expectations for healthy school habits that can make the transition more manageable. Having parents be in the know around school events and supplies necessary for school will allow them to feel more connected to the school community and more confident in their child’s ability to do well knowing they have everything they need to succeed in the classroom. Tailor these tips to what best fits your family for a strong start to the school year! 

By Catherine Clifford

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