Family Health

Back-to-School Transitions Are Easier With Supportive Parenting

Published: Aug. 9, 2023

The start of a new school year can produce a wide range of emotions.

Some kids may be excited to head back to the classroom to be with their friends. Others may be anxious about the transition with all of the unknowns about the upcoming academic year.

Parents also may be experiencing various feelings, with many tied to the question: How can we set up our kids for success as they get back into the school routine?


Model Positive Behavior at Home

You can prep your kids for a great school year by modeling that you’re excited and happy for school to start. Verbalize the positive things they’ll gain, such as seeing their friends and favorite teachers, participating in extracurricular activities, and learning new skills.

You’ll also need to establish and practice your own routines and schedules. This includes setting or resuming your bedtime routine, figuring out the morning and after-school transportation plans, setting up after-school plans, and obtaining the supplies your kids will need to be successful in the classroom.

Don’t focus on the fact that the kids will be out of the house. Rather, be sure to stress that school is a great place to be. The focus should be on what kids will get out of going to school, not how you’ll get a bit of a break by sending them to school.

Also, remind your children that teachers need to be respected, similar to how you expect your kids to respect you at home. Teachers will be able to create a positive learning environment when students are polite, follow directions and are ready to learn. Children with challenging behaviors can cause unnecessary disruptions in the classroom. Help your child be ready for success by starting the year off with an appreciation for having a teacher that’s willing to help them grow.  


Take the Lead

Kids look to parents to set the tone. And parents need to take the lead so kids can feel safe, secure, confident and capable. You may need to put your own feelings and past experiences of school aside and focus on what you need to do to help your children be successful and have a positive experience.

Open communication is critical to let kids know what to expect if things don’t go perfectly. Remember to validate their fears as being normal, but assure them that they’ll be OK because you’re there to keep things in order.


Be Proactive to Anticipate Hiccups

Practicing and preplanning are key to helping start the school year off on the right foot.

It’s a good idea to practice going to the bus stop or walking to school. Additionally, spend time on the school property, including playing on the playground, so you and your children can become familiar with the environment.  

If you haven’t been keeping up with your calendar this summer, make sure to create a calendar of events for a month at a time so all activities and events are known in advance.

When finalizing car pools and plans for child care, make sure to create backup plans should the unexpected happen. If issues do come up, remember to remain calm and respond with, “It’s OK. We have a backup plan. We practiced this. We can be flexible.” Emotionally flooded parents can lead to children experiencing unnecessary emotions.


Get Involved With School Activities

Research shows that kids perform better in school when parents are engaged with school-related activities.

That means attending back-to-school events, signing up for the parent portal and school communications, meeting the teachers and school counselors, and learning what programs and special resources the school offers.

If your kids are too young to participate in school-sponsored activities like sports, plays and concerts, try to attend some anyway to show them what kind of opportunities will be available. And if they do take part in those activities, find ways to get yourself involved – such as coaching, making pre-event meals, hosting team-bonding nights or finding other ways to volunteer.


Asking for Help

If your child is experiencing unusual or excessive behavior changes, becoming isolated from friends, not doing their homework, or receiving failing grades, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The Methodist Hospital Community Counseling Program offers counseling services to students in each middle school, high school and alternative program in Omaha Public Schools. Counselors are also available to community members at various locations across Omaha.

More Resources

About the Author

With over 30 years of experience in the mental health field, Ellen McElderry, LIMHP, LADC, has seen firsthand how providing the best behavioral health care can make a positive impact on a person’s life. Now, as the program manager for the Methodist Hospital Community Counseling Program, she’s driven to support her team and deliver that exceptional care to our communities.

“I want clients to know that they’ll receive quality care in a confidential setting in the comfort of their own neighborhood and community,” she said. “We’re able to serve people in their school, church, office – or even their home with telehealth.”

See more articles from Ellen McElderry
Ellen McElderry