Here comes back to school! With such a hard and unpredictable back-to-school time last year, this year may feel a little more normal. But if there’s anything we learned and our kids learned since 2020, we can’t really say normal anymore, and that right there is the big challenge!
Normal means we bought the backpacks and crayons. Normal means they’re picking out their first-day outfit. Normal means we went to open house and met their awesome teacher. What’s not normal is how they’re preparing mentally and emotionally. What can we do for our kids’ mental and emotional health as they get back to school?
Know it’s okay to ask for help: Teachers and school staff are there to help, so encourage your child to ask for it. The question can be small—like where to find the homework turn-in bin—or big—like feeling overwhelmed with a certain subject or needing mental health support. Teachers and school staff can help students feel reassured that they’re in a safe space at school and that it’s okay to not be okay. Remind them that knowing when and how to ask for help makes them very brave.
Set small, motivating goals: Going back to in-person learning may feel overwhelming or make your child anxious, but setting small goals that will help motivate them through those big events can be just what they need. These goals may be crucial in the first few days of school. Continuing to set goals could be beneficial to help identify their daily accomplishments. Those goals could be learning their class schedule, remembering the names of their teachers and classmates, and keeping each class folder organized.
Be present and participate: One of the biggest changes this year is just being present in person at school. Last year’s lack of connection made many kids feel like they missed out. This year encourage them to be present and participate as much as they can. Share what it means to be an active listener and engaged with classroom learning. You could help them explore different ways to take notes that help them learn best. Also, just showing up every day and giving it their best effort to have a curious mindset is a huge accomplishment by itself.
Tune into emails: Both you and your student should be tuned in. Teachers give their best effort to communicate effectively with parents and children every day, but remember communication is a two-way street. Make sure you’re reading emails and newsletters from teachers, coaches, and school officials. If you have comments or concerns about things happening at school, respectfully communicate those with your child and/or your child’s teacher. You’d be surprised what good two-way communication can do to ease students, parents, and teachers’ minds.
Prioritize mental health: Encourage your child to speak up if they’re feeling stressed, anxious, or nervous. Remind them that you’re there to listen, and school counselors are also available to help. Good mental health and academic success go hand in hand. Share with your children that everyone at school and at home wants to see them succeed and grow.
Our Jamily is so excited to see kids succeed this school year, and we know that good mental health will be a big contributing factor for success. These basics do not provide all the answers to help your children fully prepare to go back to school in our new normal. However, we encourage you to set aside some time for a conversation with your child about their mental health and starting a new school year.
Interested in having more conversations with your athlete about their mental health? Check out our Athlete Mental Health blog.