Back to School Blues

Back to School Blues

School blues

Labor Day has passed and September is approaching an end. School has been back in session for a few weeks now and we have another year of  learning ahead of us!

Although the beginning of the school year is typically thought of as an exciting time, for some kids the transition of going back to school can be stressful. The pressure for our youngsters to perform well academically combined with the new school week routine can result in our kids experiencing waves of moodiness, anxiety, and grief. As exciting as it can be to start a new chapter with school, it can also be really sad to let go of the freedom that comes with summer. Summer is the time of year where kids typically get a break from academic pressure and class work. When the school year ends up rolling around, this can be a grim reminder for kids that they will soon be assessed for their academic performance and compared against their peers. This pressure to do well in school can make children feel anxious about starting the new year. This is especially true if they have had a tough time with school in the past. 

That being said, I want to let you know that we have tools that can help our school goers feel a little more comfortable about starting a new year. Below we have included a list of suggestions that you can help incorporate into your youngsters’ routine to help them feel ready to tackle their back to school blues!

Plan School Outfits the Night Ahead of Time

Looking your best can really help you feel the part when you are feeling a little unsure of yourself. Planning out an outfit ahead of time can ensure that your school goer has plenty of time to pick the perfect outfit and make their best impression on the new school year. This can not only help boost their confidence, but it also saves the time and stress of picking out an outfit in morning.

Make Your New Teacher Something

Teachers are a big part of our kids’ lives. They are the trusted authority figure that kids turn to during the school day when their guardians aren’t around. That being said, it can be intimidating for kids to make connections with teachers when they haven’t really gotten the chance to get to know them yet. One way to break the ice is by making them a little gift to tell them a little more about you. This could include a drawing of your kids favorite place, food, etc., or even an origami sculpture of their favorite animal (there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube!). This can help your kid feel like they are actively making an effort to connect with their teacher, which may help them feel a little more comfortable heading back to class.

Create a Consistent Routine

The school year comes with lots of expectations and responsibilities. Getting ready in the morning, doing homework, and organizing materials can be very overwhelming for kids if they are not involved in a consistent routine. Routine helps kids feel that they can better navigate the fast moving pace of a school day. You can help implement routine by delegating consistent times for important daily tasks, such as waking up, breakfast time, packing lunch, and completing homework at night. Don’t forget to also schedule in some time to unwind after school. Success comes with good rest! 

Plan Fun After School Activities

If your youngster is feeling anxious about attending school, one thing that can help them distract from this stress is to plan something fun that they can look forward to when they get home. School can be frustrating for kids because they have little control over their environment and they are asked to complete tasks that they may not necessarily enjoy doing, such as doing math problems, writing stories, or taking tests. By planning a fun after school task, kids get the chance to be rewarded for all the hard work they accomplished during the school day. This also reminds kids that they can still have fun during the school year, even though summer is over. Some fun activities could include hosting a playdate with a school friend, going to a park, or trying a new craft.

Have Conversations About New Environment and Staff

Make sure to check in with your school goer about their feelings regarding the new school year. Starting a new grade is a totally new experience with a different teacher, classmates, and classroom expectations. This is a lot to take in! By taking the time to talk to your kids about their new environment, this can provide them the space to process their thoughts and feelings about it that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do. 

Discuss Realistic Expectations for Academic Performance

As we have already discussed, the thought of grades and test taking can be very anxiety provoking for school goers. Many kids feel pressure to perform, especially if they have struggled in school in the past. In order to avoid guilt or shame from grades, have discussions with your kids about realistic expectations for their grades that are attainable for them. This can help kids avoid holding themselves to unreasonable standards and help them feel supported throughout their education. It also may be helpful to have a plan if they ever start to dip below your mutual expectations for their grades. This can let your kid know that it’s not the end of the world if they are having a hard time. Additionally, this also lets them know that they have someone in their corner that loves them and supports them no matter what!

To Learn More or Book an Appointment

Interested in learning more mental health tips, tricks, or facts? Check out our blog or head to our resource page to learn more.

For more parenting resources, check out from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

If you are interested in seeing a See You Through It Counseling therapist, book an appointment.

To discover what the therapists at See You Through It Counseling offer, please go to our team page.

The School District Hustle During COVID-19

The School District Hustle During COVID-19

To the school staff members This one is for you THANK YOU

Dare I say during this school year, school staff members were tested far more than the students were? 

I have the privilege of being in connection with so many teachers, administrators, school counselors, and SACs in a variety of ways. Aside from having teachers and administrators in my family, I also work with a few teachers in my private practice, and I am very well connected to the school districts through my job with the Gloucester Township Police Department. 

Throughout the pandemic, I have heard people make comments about how easy it must be for the school staff members to be able to work from home. People have made comments about how, because schools closed in March, this will be “the longest summer break for them”. And I just have to say,

I wholeheartedly disagree. This will not be the longest, easiest summer break for school staff, but it will surely be the most well-deserved break they have ever had.

Mid-March should be an exciting time throughout school districts – spring is in the air, school trips are being planned, graduations and proms are around the corner, award ceremonies are being anticipated, etc. This year, however, in the blink of an eye, COVID-19 forced schools to take their regular teaching curriculum and turn it into remote learning. Was this a seemingly impossible and daunting task? Absolutely! But the school staff rose to the occasion. I have spoken with teachers and school counselors who have worked tirelessly just to make sure that they could continue to educate kids whom they could no longer see in person. 

But it doesn’t end there! See, the really inspiring thing about teachers, SACs, school counselors/social workers, and administrators is that they never do just the bare minimum.

It is hard enough to meet the needs of every child in a school when they are sitting right in front of you, let alone trying to keep up with children, especially at-risk children, who are now forced into remote learning. It would be a million times easier to let these kids slip through the cracks and simply give them zeros or fail them for the year when they are not checking in with their teachers, not turning in their work, or have not responded to any of the school staff’s requests. What the school staff did instead, however, is work even harder to make sure that these children know they are not alone and ensure that they have the resources they need to continue with remote learning. 

School staff have worked double-time, triple-time, quadruple-time to make sure the students do not miss out on any of the fun activities that were planned for the end of the school year. I am honored to work with one school SAC in particular who even transformed the school’s annual senior scholarship competition so that it could be completed virtually and the students would still have a chance to compete. I have watched teachers make videos for their students, hold Zoom meetings so the class could be together, and schedule time individually with each child to talk about the end of the school year, especially the younger children, like 5thgraders, who will never get the opportunity to go back to their elementary school, as they will now be moving onto middle school. 

Teachers and counselors care so much more than we give them credit for. When the schools first closed, I remember sitting in my private practice with a patient who teaches elementary-aged children in an inner-city school district. In our previous sessions, we had many conversations about how much these children challenged her due their environments, histories of trauma, lack of support at home, etc. However, when she realized she was no longer going to be able to see her students at work every day, she was devastated. She grieved over not being able to interact with her kids. She worried because she knew that for so many of those children, school was their only safe space. She was frustrated with figuring out how she would continue to connect with her students when so many of them do not even have internet access in their homes. 

It has not been easy for members of school districts, regardless if they are teachers, counselors, SACs, or administrators. It has been exhausting, heartbreaking, worrisome, and stressful beyond belief. But in typical school staff fashion, they rose to the occasion. They have done socially-distanced visits with their students, checked in with many of them on a regular basis, surprised them at their homes with goodie bags to celebrate making it through the school year, and so much more. 

In this week’s blog post, I simply wanted to make space to honor the schools and recognize how hard these loving and dedicated individuals have worked on behalf of their students. They did not have an extended summer vacation. The truth is that they went to war against a pandemic that took away their ability to influence and educate our younger generations. 

To the teachers,

To the SACs,

To the school counselors and social workers,

To the administrators,

To every single person who works in or for the school districts:

This one is for you. THANK YOU.