Dr. Rivera

Dr. Karla Rivera is a district-wide psychologist here in Irvington. She is here to provide support for children and families as we face these challenging times.

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School is Back! Is Your Child Ready?

It’s September again and time for school! Maybe your scholar is excited for a new school year, or maybe not- but no matter what, it’s our job as parents to do our best to help our child feel prepared and ready to learn. This means making sure our child is primed for academic learning, but also socially and emotionally prepared. The first cannot happen without the second. Here are some ways to help your child feel confident to tackle school.

Routine and structure: Over the summer we often relax our kids’ routines, but during the school year, structure is important for academic success and emotional wellness. How does a structured routine help? Children thrive when they know what to expect and what is expected of them. They respond to predictability- this is especially important after two years of a pandemic, when much of their world was unpredictable. Structure helps your child feel emotionally safe. How can we easily establish a routine?

Establish Set Wake Up and Bedtimes: It’s vital to ensure your child has plenty of rest. A rested child is a happier child! This includes teens. If you have one, make sure there is a “go to bed by” time. Teens staying up past midnight may struggle to function during the day.

Regardless of age, establish a wake up and bedtime routine for your child that is consistent each day. The bedtime can include preparations for the next day. Your child of any age can learn to pack their own bookbag and to lay out their uniform each night. There is nothing like struggling in the morning to find a uniform shirt or a missing shoe! Taking care of these things the night before, allows for a smooth morning.

Establish a Homework Routine: Our children of any age need to develop independence and accountability when it comes to school work. Decide with your child what their homework routine should be? Does your child want to have a snack and relax for an hour first, or get started right away and relax after? What do you and your child think will work best? Allow your child to help determine this, because it’s important that our children develop self-awareness and understand how they learn/work best.

Hold your Child Accountable for Their Academic Success: Hold your child accountable for remembering to bring necessary items back from school- such as workbooks. Establish a norm where they are responsible for checking what assignments are due and completing them. Monitor your child’s google classroom and power school to ensure they are submitting assignments and progressing well. Reach out to your child’s teacher or guidance counselor if you don’t understand how to use these platforms.

Problem Solve Together: If your child is struggling, help them to troubleshoot. Is their homework routine working for them? Why or why not? Do they understand the assignments given during class and for homework? Is it time to ask the teacher for extra help? Are they managing their time well? Your older student may need support in understanding how to study and prepare for tests, or they may need help with time management. When is the project due? Assist your child in developing a schedule to complete it little by little- discourage them from procrastinating!

Remain positive: It’s important that we establish an open dialogue with our children regarding school. If our response is anger when our child is struggling, they will be less likely to let us know they are having a hard time. Stay positive and encouraging, let your child know they can always turn things around and grow. Explain sometimes failure is a part of growth and is life teaching us that we may need to do something differently. Help them to figure out what that “something” is.

Communicate with your child’s teacher and help your child to do the same: Establish a positive relationship with your child’s teachers. Remember our children may spend more of their day with their teachers than they do with us. We want the relationship between them, our child and ourselves to be a positive one. Reach out to your child’s teacher. Ask questions and share concerns. Sometimes there is a tendency to only communicate when we are unhappy, remember to always share with your child’s teachers what you’re pleased with as well.

Remember that when your child reports that something happened with another student or a teacher, it’s important to get the full story before jumping to anger. Our child’s viewpoint may not always be completely accurate, and we want to make sure we clarify with adults what happened before becoming defensive or upset. If we receive a call from the school regarding our child’s behavior, it’s important to remain calm and to listen without immediately defending our child. Learn your child’s perspective, but be willing to hear that of the adults as well.

Work On Your Child’s Social Skills at Home: Social skills are vital for success in school. Teach your child of any age about how to communicate effectively. Help them to express their feelings appropriately and to think about how their words and actions can impact others. Emphasize with your child the importance of collaboration and cooperation. Help them to understand the need to think before they act in any social situation.

Teach your child the importance of listening to others and validating how others’ may feel. Explain to your child that we live in a diverse world where everyone may not think and feel as they do. It’s important to respect these differences. Teach them that diversity has value and makes our lives richer.

As you move forward this school year…bear in mind that all the skills discussed above of self-awareness, independence, time management, communication and collaboration will benefit your child for a lifetime. Teach these skills now to help your child find success for life!