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The Four Winds Blog

Back to School Prep: Summer Steps to Relieve Fall Stress

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy.D

The summer is a time to rest and relax for both you and your children. The rigid school year routine easily takes a back seat to the fun filled days of the summer. Although the last thing your kids may want to think about is the start of the new school year, the summer also provide a key opportunity to address school year concerns during a time when stress is often at a low.

For kids transitioning from elementary school to Middle School or Middle School to High School a little summer prep can certainly go a long way. This is especially true for children who tend to experience a lot of anxiety in new situations. High School kids are not excluded from the opportunity to relieve some school related stress. What follows are some quick tips on how to make the most out of a back to school summer prep plan.

Elementary School to Middle School

The number one concern the majority of children relate regarding the transition form elementary school to Middle School is related to dealing with a locker the first time, aka ‘locker anxiety.’ In order to ensure that that kids are well prepared to manage working a combination lock, a little practice over the summer can go a long way. Children also worry about finding their classes. In order to quell these concerns and ensure that your child feels confident when school starts, find out if there is access to the school over the summer. Once schedules are released in the late summer, it can be particularly helpful to walk through your child’s schedule before the first day of school. If you cannot physically access the school, see if you can find a map of the school and do a virtual walk thru with your child. A conversation with older friends and/or neighbors who already attend the school can also allay many kid’s fears about the transition.

Middle School to High School

Most kids approach High School feeling a lot of excitement, relief, and on occasion fear. They seem to understand that high school is the ‘real deal,’ a place will they will start to come into their own as they prepare to be launched into outside world. Like kids entering middle school, many Freshmen worry about getting lost in their new schools. Other common concerns include, worrying about the workload and finding a place in the social scene. It is very helpful for your kids to connect with a student already attending the school over the summer such as a sibling or neighbor. Another student can only serve as a good resource as well as a familiar face in this new unfamiliar environment. If your teen is particularly anxious it can help to connect with the guidance department prior to the start of school.

Benefit for all

Recreational reading over the summer is certainly a must for children of all ages. Study after study clearly reflects the benefits of reading. These include: increasing vocabulary, honing concentration and memory skills, and reducing stress, just to name a few. If your children have assignments that must be completed over the summer remind them to start early and take it slowly. If your children are not likely to take these assignments on their own, set aside a designated summer school work time each day. While they may complain initially, your kids will appreciate your efforts when they see their friends stressing to complete assignments right before school starts up.

Although school may be the furthest thing from your child’s mind over the summer, a little pre-school prep can go a long way to lessen back-to-school stress.

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