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Keeping Sane for the School Year… a Simple Formula

 

Back To School

 

Keeping Sane for the School Year… a Simple Formula

It’s that time of year when one is constantly hearing from mothers and fathers “Finally school is about to begin”, when only months ago it was common to hear them say “School is finally over!!” Parents, as much as children, get worn out from the school rituals; waking up early, homework, exams, pop quizzes, school events and many more issues. Consequently, parents and children feel all worked up, perhaps even stressed or anxious, which makes them look forward to the summer vacation. Towards the end of summer, funnily enough, most parents are longing for school in order to get a sense of structure for the day for their children. During summer, many children are given many privileges such as going to bed late, waking up late, more flexibility with screen time (TV, electronic devices, mobiles and computers).

Preparing children to go back to school varies from one culture to another. There are many useful resources online that one can use; below is a crucial and compatible list to our society and culture that parents need to make sure they are in tune with:

  1. Reflect on your emotions as a parent. Make sure that you are calm and relaxed when you’re discussing or getting involved with back to school plans with your child. Make sure you are able to listen to your child, not just give orders. Your emotions and feelings are most likely reflected to your child so if you are nervous about the beginning of the school year, it is highly likely that your child will be too.
  2. Agree together on rules and expectations. Allow them to get involved in the decision making by giving space for discussion and most importantly time. Regardless of your child’s age, this is a great exercise to help your son or daughter learn how to plan their day and problem solve when things get out of hand. So whether it is chores, homework, screen time or even going out on the weekend, set the rules together. Allow them to think of the consequences if such agreements are broken, not only involving them in expectations and guidelines, but opportunities as well.
  3. Encourage them to be independent and follow through. Monitor your child and his or her ability to follow through on your agreement together to make sure things do not get out of hand. That does not mean doing things for him or her but rather as the year begins perhaps you assist on a daily basis for the first week, then on a biweekly basis just see how they are managing with homework, studying and being prepared for school. The frequency of following through differs by age and from one child to another.
  4. Develop positive self-esteem for your child. This starts by being a positive role model. Give positive and honest feedback, praise them for their effort; love and hug them; allow them to make choices and set realistic goals. Focus on their strengths and abilities and do not compare them to others who may be more successful than them. Encourage them to share their feelings and emotions and most importantly accept their mistakes and failures by teaching them how they can overcome them and move forward. This will allow them to learn how to handle both positive and negative emotions.
  5. Fuel your child’s brain. Be in tune with your child’s physical abilities and encourage them, to help them stay focused in school. This could be achieved by making sure they are getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals and especially having their breakfast before school. Ensure that they manage to balance between after school activities and school work without being overwhelmed.
  6. Stay connected. Being connected with your child is the essence of your relationship together. It requires uninterrupted time, where you are able to check in with them and they are able to easily express their feelings, fears, aspirations, dreams, experiences, mistakes and accomplishments with you. This encourages them to feel safe, heard and supported.

 

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Maryam Maafa

Maryam has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from The American University in Cairo. Maryam works with individuals, couples and families who are having relationship struggles; provides parental guidance and couples therapy to parents of children with behavioral problems as well as group therapy. Her experience is in helping stressed or anxious individuals and couples gain a better understanding of themselves, and learn skills that will further enhance their personal and professional development. Maryam has developed workshops on various mental and emotional health and also co-led a group for social anxiety. Maryam practices in her private office in Zamalek, and also at Nūn Center and can be reached through Reflections by Maryam Maafa.

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