Start the School Year Smoothly

by Patrick on July 27, 2010

Illustration of PatrickI just received a phone call from a friend who was absolutely distraught. Three months ago, she got laid off from a job she loved. She had to say good bye to her boss, a mentor who she adored. She cried over the loss of her coworkers, among them some of her closest and dearest friends.

On top of this, in only a few days, she’s starting a new job with a new boss she doesn’t know where she’ll meet a whole building full of unknown coworkers. She’s feeling overwhelmed, and understandably scared. It’s been a rough few months.

As a good friend, I’ve listened, given advice, and made sure she knows how much I care about her. You probably have a friend in this exact situation. You might be there yourself, or remember when you were in a situation like this. It’s tough. People go to therapy because it’s so overwhelming. Some people that are going through this can’t even get out of bed.

In the coming month, almost every child in the United States will be facing that same problem.

They’ll be getting a new boss they’ve never worked for. They’ll have at least 20 new “colleagues” that they’ll need to get along with and figure out how to work with. It’s pretty big.

Sometimes, as adults, we dismiss the seriousness of the transition from school year to school year. We send our kids on their merry little way, sometimes pausing to snap a photo of them waving with their new backpack and fresh clothes.

Sometimes we don’t take the time to pause and reflect on how big this transition really is.

It’s important for us to remember that we need to give children the space and time to mourn and remember their past school year. It’s important for them to express their feelings and ideas about the new one.

This is one of the most important times you can check in with your child about how they’re thinking and feeling about this transition. Here are a few questions that might help when you have this conversation:

  • What did you really like about your classroom last year?
  • What do you want to be the different this year? The same?
  • What things are you going to miss about last year?
  • What are you most nervous about this year?
  • What are you the most excited about?
  • What do you think you will learn about this year?
  • How do you feel about your new teacher? What do you already know about her? What have you heard fro other kids about her?

Good luck. Let us know how it goes. Any answers that surprised you? Any insights into your own transitions from grade to grade? Comment away.

Want more tips on making the school year run smoothly? Get 45 information-packed minutes of Melissa, Queenie and Patrick giving their best tools and techniques for free. Click here to listen.