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Tips for back to school success

Whether your child is returning to school or just starting preschool or kindergarten, it’s a big transition. Transitions in general are tough for children as there are so many unknowns which has the potential to activate their stress response. When children are stressed they don’t sit down and talk to about how they are feeling and what is bothering them. Instead there are changes in behavior. These behavior changes can range in symptoms and severity from regression with previously mastered skills like toileting, more frequent tantrums, irritability, difficulty falling or staying asleep, withdrawal, or isolation just to name a few. As families make this transition to school, classroom teachers have a lot to manage with so many new children. Teachers do their best to prepare for the start of the year with lesson planning, labeling, and organizing materials and activities. However, classroom teachers do not know your child like you do and can feel a bit lost when it comes to supporting them, especially when challenging behaviors are present. Help with the transition to school for your child and their teacher with letting them know these tips about your child.
  1. What your child loves most. This will give teachers something to quickly connect with them about helping to build a relationship and often reduce anxiety of the new environment.
  2. What works when your child is upset. Teachers are managing a whole classroom of children so knowing tips and tools for helping your child calm down can be a real blessing. Examples may be: getting a hug, going to a quite space, getting a drink or snack, having a personal item from home like a lovie for smaller children or picture or fidget for older children.
  3. Fears and worries. Children get anxious and having someone know what their triggers are can be a huge help. Maybe your child is extra sensitive to loud noises, or has a fear of going to the bathroom by themselves, or worries about when they can play outside. Any fears or worries that you can let your child’s teacher know about can help prevent unnecessary challenges.
  4. Sensitivities. We all have different sensitivities to different things and having teachers know this information can really set the stage for success. For example, maybe your child is sensitive to texture, light, sound, or transitions. Perhaps your child is sensitive to feeling lonely, tired, or hungry. Explaining these sensitivities to teachers can take out the guessing game when teachers maybe at a loss for unexplained challenging behaviors.
  5. How your child expresses emotions. No two people are exactly alike so letting your child’s teacher know what your child does when they are angry, nervous, excited, happy, and sad is another key to victory. For example, when your child is nervous or scared they may have a difficult time sitting still or want to hide or withdrawal. Or when your child is angry perhaps they cry or could even throw things. We express our emotions and feelings in different ways and as parents we are often in tune with these subtleties but others are left confused or guessing. Give your teacher some of your child’s typical emotional responses to help your child when you are not there and improve communication between you and your child’s teacher.
Teachers are often overwhelmed at the beginning and end of the day when parents are most likely dropping off and picking up their child so this may not be the best time to communicate this crucial information. Try typing up a few quick bullet points and handing it to them letting them review the awesome information when they can focus. Or even a quick email so that teachers can easily go back and reference these tips when needed.