With the school year up and running, one of the pressure points your family may be feeling is the difficult season of changing routines and expectations. While this school year may throw more change at us than usual, the experience of change is usually not easy for kids (let’s be honest, we adults dislike it too). While there may be more rules and maybe more fear with the current health situation, we here at The Speech & Career Center think it’s good to remember that change can be hard for anyone. If your child (or you) are struggling with the new routines, workloads, rules, relationships, and/or expectations, you are not alone. Even speech therapists struggle with the start of a new school year! And if you are a parent and your child is struggling with the change, you are probably not doing anything wrong. As a child, it can feel like being on an alien planet when you lose much of the familiarity of long-held routines and expectations. Scary!
Since change can be hard, we want to offer a few strategies that may ease the transition into this school year. First, do your best to have realistic expectations. Not every day of school will be great. Sometimes it will be challenging. But we know that education is worth investing in! Second, give space for feelings. All this newness can leave us feeling many different emotions. If your child feels nervous, angry, sad, or tired, sometimes all they need is permission to feel that thing. What a great opportunity as a parent to give them that freedom! It can be as easy as “It looks like you are feeling sad about school today. It is ok to feel sad.” Thirdly, use visual schedules. For children, especially those struggling with change, consistency and predictability can be huge stress relievers. If you can give them an idea of what their day will look like, it can be very comforting. Picture schedules can be as simple as a picture of school, then a picture of home (‘First we go to school, then we come home’), or it can be as detailed as having every class of the day lined up ready to be checked off. You know your child and what may work best for them! Finally, keep familiar and preferred routines where you can. Does your child love to listen to music? Do they get so excited to play with a certain toy when they get home? Do they relax when they are with a specific person? Keep those things in their life where you can!! Knowing that not everything has changed and that there are still familiar parts to life can also lighten the load for kids and make the change more enjoyable.
We hope these tips will be helpful to you. We also want you to know that God loves your children. Although our situations change all the time, He does not. An anchor for us here at TSCC is that there is a steadfast God with us. He is that same God to you. Thank you for letting us love on and serve your children!
-The TSCC team