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Getting Kids Ready for School: A Counselor’s Guide

With school starting soon, many kids and parents may be worried about how the school year will go. Many kids maybe dreading the start of the year just because it means the end of the summer and getting up early. No matter your view of school, it does bring in a new schedule to most families and with this comes the battle between parents and kids. The Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) Team here at COR has some tips to make the battle go a little smother this year.

The first step is to get into the structured schedule that school requires. Many kids get used to staying up later and sleeping in. When school starts, this shift in schedule can cause problems when your child must wake up 2-3 hours earlier than what they have gotten used to. A week before school starts, begin waking your kids up in time for school and having them go to bed on time. A nightly routine may also help for some kids to make sure everything is ready and accounted for the night before. Kids should also be used to when they are allowed to have technology and you as the parent should set the expectation of when that is.

It is also important to have a conversation with your kids about their feelings towards school. Find out if they are feeling anxious or if they have any other concerns about school starting. Talk to them about classes and if they are worried about any of their classes being difficult this year. If your child is worried or anxious it maybe beneficial to hear them out and not write it off as them not wanting to go to school. Working to have an open conversation with your children can open the door for better problem solving in the future. Other topics to ask them could be if they have any goals for this year or if they would like to join any clubs or activities. Overall, having a conversation about being prepared for school is important so that you are on the same page as your child.

For the times that your kid does not attend school, make sure there is a plan in place for each different reason they may not go to school. If they are sick, be sure to have them checked by a medical professional. If your child is home from school, make sure you or another trusted adult can check on them every so often to make sure they are alright and to make sure they are, in fact home and not giving you the Ferris Bueller day off routine. For those kids who make skipping school a routine, have rules in place to encourage them to go to school. This could be consequences or incentives that encourage them to attend school. In these cases, supervision and monitoring is key along with the conversation we discussed earlier. Ask your child why they are avoiding school and challenge your own thinking. Often, parents may think kids go to school because they should go to school. This is called “should” thinking and can get in the way of problem solving.

At the end of the day, school does affect the routine and patterns of all families involved. Putting some effort into the night before school may help the next morning from being a nightmare of forgotten homework and lost shoes. Keep in mind that everyday will not be easy for you or your child so a healthy amount of patience should be used. If anxiety or other problems get to be too much, please keep in mind the resources in your community, such as us here at COR or any other trusted group.

Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting a Child that Skips.

Do not

· Allow the child to leave the home until they return to school successfully the following day.

· Allow the child access to communicate with peers.

· Call the child in ill to school if they are not truly ill.

· Allow the child to have access to any electronics including but not limited to gaming consoles, phone, tablets, television, etc. This applies only to children who are not sick.

· Leave the child unsupervised throughout the day.

· Leave the child with access to vehicles


· Remove all electronics access from the child.

· Have someone come by periodically to check to ensure child is at home and no peers are visiting.

· Limit access to communication other than contacting parents

o Parental control apps

o Bark

o Life 360

o Mama Bear, etc.

· Utilizing other technology to contact parents i.e. Alexa, Google Home.

· Do consult with the school nurse or medical provider if child is not showing obvious signs of illness.

· Celebrate the wins!

· Celebrate good grades!

· Celebrate involvement in extracurricular activities!

· Recognize that parenting is hard and no one expects perfection. Progress not perfection!

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