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Back to School and Mental Health




A Note from Allison…


With the heat of the summer coming to an end and fall making its way to cooler autumn temperatures, the children and youth are all returning to school. This transition — filled with excitement, anticipation, and some natural apprehension — is an annual ritual for millions of students across our nation. As we prepare for the new academic year, it's crucial to remember that school readiness isn't just about having the right supplies, it's also about having the right mental mindset.


Promoting a Healthy Transition


The return to school can be a stressful time, whether it's a child’s first day of kindergarten, a transition to middle or high school, sending our children off to college, or just the end of the freedoms of summer. It's normal for children to feel anxious about these changes. Here are some tips on how you can be aware of your student's needs and then teach them how to advocate for themselves:


Spot the Signs of stress: Some things to look for include; finding it hard to concentrate, not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams. Not eating properly, quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts. Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts, feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often.

Create Safe and Productive spaces: Offer a nurturing environment where your child feels safe to express their feelings without feeling judged or embarrassed can lead to a supported and empowering academic focus. Remember that before and after school advisement is offered and/or private and group tutoring is available on or off campus. Sometimes this is helpful temporarily until your child starts to adjust and feel more confident and comfortable in their new routine.


Communicate: Encourage your child to express their feelings about being back at school. Listen to understand and then acknowledge their fears and reassure them that it's perfectly normal to feel anxious about these changes. Sometimes just getting it off their chest and feeling like they aren’t alone is all it takes for them to settle their worries. Set aside time each day to talk about the highs and lows of their day. This is a great opportunity to bond and be available. Change is inevitable. We want to teach them that accepting change, talking about how it feels, and then working through it, is an important part of life.


Create Routines: A consistent routine fosters a sense of security in children. Establishing a regular sleep schedule, eating healthy meals, and setting aside time for homework and relaxation can help children adjust to the new rhythm of the school year. Be mindful of your child’s study environment and make sure it is setting them up for success. Sometimes this means stepping in and helping to get rid of distractions that could be prohibiting them from being able to be present and focused.

Encourage In-person Social Interactions: Facilitate interaction with classmates to rekindle old friendships and make new ones. Social relationships can make the transition smoother and more enjoyable. Connection is also a human need. Sometimes we count texting or gaming together as social interaction, however, an in-person social connection is powerful and long-lasting.


As we approach the new school year, let’s make caring for every child’s mental health a priority. Every child deserves to have a successful academic year, and by equipping young people with mental health support, we are setting them up for a healthier and brighter future. This year let's commit to making the back-to-school transition about physical and academic readiness and about mental preparedness. Together, we can help build and support resilient young minds and allow every child to thrive, enjoy academic success, and reach their full potential.

Much love,

Allison

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