Troubles with teachers, other students, or a class are just a few of the stresses that can keep kids from enjoying school–and often parents feel helpless to assist their children. Talking with your kids and understanding what’s adding to their stress is the first step in understanding what’s going on at school. By helping kids work through their stress you’ll teach valuable stress management tips that will help them throughout their lives.
The first step in helping your kids with school stress is to listen to what’s going on with them. Even if they aren’t talking, watch for non-verbal cues, or trust your instincts if your kid just doesn’t seem himself or herself. Begin the conversation by casually asking about school while you’re driving home, at the supermarket, or doing a chore around the house together. Don’t pressure them and refrain from pressing for answers.
2. Talk about homework
If they’re new to homework, discuss the work with them at the kitchen table or before they sit down to work. Talk about what is due tomorrow or next week and help them to plan out how to get the work done. Don’t focus on grades, but rather focus on completion and understanding the concepts of the assignment. Learning to manage their workload efficiently will help them not only succeed in school but in the workforce.
3. Establish a routine
Set a breakfast and morning routine that works for everyone. It may mean setting out plates and planning breakfast the night before or it may mean getting up a few minutes earlier to help ease morning stress. Try to make mornings calm and be enthusiastic about what’s planned for the day. Lead by example by happily sharing the plans that you have for your day.
4. Know the rules
Understand the rules that your child’s school has in place. What happens if they are late for class? Are electronic devices allowed? What is the dress code for school? Be attentive at parent meetings and understand the culture of the school so that you can have a solid grip on what’s expected of your child. Your understanding will help them better navigate demands and thrive at school.
5. “Un-Schedule” kids
There are wonderful extracurricular activities for your child, but it is just as important that kids take time to relax and have some unscheduled time at home or outdoors. Keep one weekday after school that is a “free day,” and stick to that schedule for the school year. Your child will be relaxed and prepared for the rest of the week when you allow him to have proper downtime.