That’s right, you just heard the school bell ring again! School is around the corner and summer vacation is ending. A new school year can be stressful for kids. This may include the social aspect to the amount of homework that needs to be completed each night. To make sure your child is ready for the school year and has a smooth transition, here are a couple of steps to consider for your child to be prepared and equipped with the support they may need. Check out some tips and tricks below.
When school is back in session, so are activities. Having your child or the child you are caring for join a team or club can help them make new friends or develop stronger relationships. Other benefits are enhancing social skills, and helping them learn how to have a healthy relationship with a coach or mentor. Having someone in a child’s life that they can look up to can help them mature and grow to their full potential. Being on a team teaches life skills that are crucial and beneficial for any child. Sharing, relying on one another, working together towards a common goal, using communication, and so much more can be learned while playing a sport or attending an afterschool or weekend activity.
Becoming involved within your community and school can help kids branch out and feel welcome. Joining something at school can help children meet teachers that will help them in the long run. Being in a controlled environment assists children with learning to feel comfortable with trusted adults and peers.
Meeting the Teachers:
Meeting your child’s teacher is extremely important. Make sure to review if your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or an Intervention and Referral Service (I & RS) plan as well as the overall needs of the child. You may talk about what the child needs to feel comfortable in the classroom. Discussing class participation can also be beneficial because some children may feel anxious speaking or presenting in front of twenty kids.
Another school staff member be sure to meet with is the guidance counselor. If your child or the child you are caring for is struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma or any mental health issues, it is important for the guidance counselor to know at least some basic information so they can better assist and help if the child needs a break. Hopefully, you’ll be able to come home and express to your child they have someone safe to talk to during the school day if necessary. When speaking with these staff members, leave the conversation confidently that both you and them are on the same page and know your child’s needs. Follow-up meetings throughout the school year to know that your child is adjusting well is also a good idea to make sure that everything is going smoothly.
Lastly, routines are crucial for most people, especially children, because it gives them a sense of being in the know and they are able to anticipate what's going to happen on a daily basis. Children are able to thrive when knowing what is expected of them and when informed of the routine each day. Understanding that on the schedule is their karate class happens every Wednesday at 5:00 or that homework gets done after dinner is useful and can make their lives feel more orderly and calm.
For foster children, while caregivers might not always know if a visit is going to take place, scheduling something like the same restaurant to go on visit days could be helpful. Or, having the same meal like tacos or spaghetti and meatballs can work as well. This is so that the child feels some sense of routine and control over one aspect of the day by knowing the same thing will occur each time there is a visit, especially if parent visits are scheduled but not routinely occurring.
Overall, going back to school for the caretaker means getting everything in order for your child to succeed. This is for both during the school year and feeling ready for the fall in general. Making sure you have a game plan makes your child feel more comfortable, secure, and hopefully, in turn, increases the household’s flow and happiness. Alright, are you ready for your first class? I hope you took notes!
Jill Roth-Gutman is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children, a credentialing organization approved by the American Bar Association. She provides New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP, formerly, DYFS) consultations to resource parents, family members and potential foster and foster-to-adopt parents as well as completes DCPP Adoption. She also specializes in Adult Child Guardianships, writing Power of Attorney and Living Wills. Ms. Roth-Gutman is available as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in contested child custody cases and as a Court Appointment Attorney for Alleged Incapacitated Persons in Guardianships. Ms. Roth-Gutman is a proud member of the Burlington County Bar Association, Camp to Belong River Valley Recruitment Committee, and sits on the Camden County Workforce Development Board's Youth Investment Council Committee.
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