Well, parents, grandparents, God-parents, uncles, aunts, older siblings, cousins and everyone else who may be currently providing care for a student, those three words that make some cringe and others shout for joy are upon us – BACK TO SCHOOL! I must confess that I am just like my offspring when it comes to school ending in May/June (THANK YOU LORD!) and resuming in August (HELP ME JESUS!), because, since my oldest started kindergarten in the late 90’s, I feel like I’ve been back in school with them each year. I’ve always secretly envied those care givers of students who are excited at the beginning of each new school year. However, if you are like me and mine, you will welcome some pointers to help minimize the stress and tension that often come with those three words.
- Try to be optimistic about a new year. The trails, tribulations, defeats of last year are…the past! It’s helpful to look at the past and gain the insight and lessons that God would have us to glean from the areas that didn’t fare so well. A new school year is a new opportunity to move forward and away from those experiences that were not previously positive. It’s never helpful or healthy to spend more time dwelling on the past than preparing for the future or enjoying the present.
- Set expectations with students and teachers based on reality. I would love for each of my boys to love to read and write as much as I did when I was their age. But the reality is they don’t get excited about the thought of going to check out books from the library (or downloading one on their tablet), and writing another “Who Am I” paper at the beginning of the school year. As caregivers, it is imperative that we push our students to do their best, but we must also accept that their best isn’t always an A in every subject.
- Get involved! Let the teachers, administrators and your child(ren) know you care by taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer and attend school activities. We often believe that we can’t add another item to our Outlook calendar, but your presence makes a positive difference.
- Take advantage of the blessings that are presented to you. There are often tutors, mentors, counselors and others willing to help when needed. Reach out and utilize those resources. Don’t be a parent that “has not because you ask not.”
- Recognize signs that you or your student may need some additional emotional support. Most find some aspects of academics stressful, but if the stress leads to anxiety, depression or other mental health disorders, reach out to a mental health provider today. Know the signs of depression and ensure care is given when needed. (Depression screenings are available on mha.org)
These are just a few tips that can help you start to make it a great [school] year!! Tondra McLaurin is available to schedule an appointment for these and other mental health issues. You may contact her at 980.272.7776 or at firstname.lastname@example.org