Welcome back, Irvington families! A new school year is upon us, and thankfully it will look more normal than the last, but it may not be without it’s challenges. Some of our scholars have not been to in person school for some time. For those who did attend, the school day was very different than in the past. This means whether your child is 6 or 16, there will be a period of adjustment for your family as your child gets accustomed to attending school in person everyday. How can we help as parents?
Give Emotional Support: No matter how old your scholar is, your child will have to make many transitions. They may be out of practice with socializing with peers, following the routines and demands of the classroom and navigating school buildings that may be unfamiliar to them.
Your scholar may have anxiety about being among other students again, or other worries. Many of our families have suffered trauma in various forms since the pandemic began. Traumatic experiences can negatively impact the emotional wellbeing of a child and make focusing in school incredibly difficult. What can we do as parents?
The most important thing you can do for your child is to provide emotional support. Some families are less “touchy-feely” than others. However, today more than ever, it is vital that you explore emotions with your child. Children of any age can struggle to express themselves. Let your child know that we all experience feelings and all feelings are ok. Model for your child by sharing a time when you were happy or anxious or angry.
Talk About Feelings on a Regular Basis: This will help broaden your child’s emotional vocabulary and understanding. Explain that feelings are natural and important; we just need to learn how to manage them. When your child has difficulty expressing a feeling, help them to name it. For example, you can say “it seems like you’re feeling sad (anxious, angry, etc.), right now. Can we talk about it?” Give your child strategies to cope. Encourage your child to talk things out, or to express their feelings through art, journaling or other ways that would work for them. You know your child best! What helps your scholar to feel calm? Most importantly, keep ongoing communication with your child. If you have a teen, they may not open up at first, but don’t give up trying- your child is taking in what you say and appreciates your effort to connect, even if they don’t always show it.
As school returns..: It will be important that you ask your child how they feel about school? What are they worried about? Listen to and validate their concerns. Acknowledge that it may be difficult at first to feel comfortable, and that you understand that. Also, reassure them that they are resilient and will make the adjustment. Point out all they have overcome already and that they are capable of thriving even during difficult times.
If your child has experienced a loss or trauma that you’re aware of, or if they seem to be feeling really down or anxious, please let your school know as soon as possible. This will help your child’s teachers and mental health professionals within your child’s school to know that your child may need additional support, so they can meet your child’s needs. Remember, when a child is feeling hurt, sad or afraid related to something they have experienced, it can make learning very difficult. Seeking help for your child, will allow your child to learn and feel better.
Putting these emotional supports in place will not only be key to your child’s success this year, but also in the future. Building your child’s self-awareness, understanding of their emotions, and communication skills now will help them to become happier and more successful adults.