5 Ways to Help your Adopted Child Transition to a New School Year
Saying good-bye to the summer is hard for all of us! Packed with cookouts, visitors, road trips, camps, beach days and play dates galore, leaving the beach and the relaxed days of warm weather is not easy. These lazy summer weekends and vacations will all soon be a memory.
New starts can be difficult for even the most resilient people. Meeting new people, new friends and new schedules can at times feel overwhelming. Knowing where your locker is or trying to remember the combinations can be a challenge for even the the most organized.
Here are 5 ways you can help your child ease into the school year in a positive, stress-free manner:
- Maintain a calming presence. This means parents and caregivers. Children will most often take your lead. If your child knows that you are calm and positive they will be too. Make sure you are organized and have a plan to manage your own anxiety and sadness if it comes up. Remember it can be just as hard for the parent to say goodbye too!
- Help kids explore their worries. Talk about what the new school year will look like for your child. Ask questions of them such as, “Are you thinking about your new teacher and class?” Ask open ended questions which will spark a conversation and allow you to see how your child is feeling about the start of a new school year. For children who have a difficult time expressing their emotions, use feelings cards, play and books (see list below) as a catalyst for conversations.
- Review their new routine. Children feel more safe and confident when they know what to expect. You could take a trip to the school so that your child is familiar with the space, attend any orientations or have a poster or calendar up on the wall of a daily or weekly schedule (activities, dinner time, homework time, etc.). You can also help build excitement by investing in something new for the school year (i.e. backpack, crayons, etc.).
- Get back to a sleep schedule. The summer is a beautiful and special time filled with late nights watching the stars or making s’mores by the fire, which means that sleep schedules get shifted. With the start of school it’s important for kids to get back on track with going to bed early so they can get enough sleep.
- Make a plan for what you both need to say goodbye. It can be very difficult for kids to separate from their parents but it is an important step for them to take. If your child is anxious about separating help them figure out what they need to say goodbye. Perhaps you have a special handshake or a memento they can take with them to look at throughout the day and be reminded of you. You can practice doing this at home ahead of time. Try not to linger too long with the goodbye, as it will make it more difficult for the both of you.
Written by Jennifer Eckert, LICSW
Boston Post Adoption Resources
For further reading and resources on supporting your adopted child’s transition back-to-school, check out:
- Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey, by Kelly DiBenedetto, Katie Gorczyca and Jennifer Eckert
- Adoption and the Schools: Resources for Parents and Teachers, edited by Lansing Wood and Nancy Ng