Back to School Mental Wellness – 8 Ways Parents Can Help Their Student

Returning to school after summer break or coming back to the classroom after months of online learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is a big change in a student’s routine. Understanding what is expected by teachers and transitioning back to sitting at a desk in the classroom can be overwhelming.

Many students face the transition back to school with anxiety. Others are filled with excitement to see their friends and return to their routines. These mixed emotions are normal, and there are ways parents can aid their student’s mental wellness during this time. 

  1. Check In And Have Open Conversations About How Your Student Is Feeling

Returning to the classroom may be met with mixed emotions and it is important to create room for your student to ask questions and talk about their feelings. They may be concerned about keeping up with their peers or meeting their teachers’ expectations. They may be worried about getting good grades in harder classes.

 Your student may also be worried about their social circles, with questions like “Will I make more friends this year?” or “Am I going to make the soccer team?” If college applications are nearing, your student is likely to consider how they are going to balance their schoolwork, social life, extracurriculars, and college applications all at the same time. 

All of these concerns are a lot for a young person to carry alone. Sometimes it is hard to have conversations about apprehensions and fears, but parents can help students understand that all of their concerns are normal by offering support and starting the conversations. 

2. Collaborate

Building an understanding of how your child feels about the future is a great first step to supporting their mental wellness. Start by offering support through conversations. Another step that can help someone who is struggling with their mental health is offering support through collaboration. 

It is easy for students to feel isolated as the anxiety and stress of the school year flood back in when returning to school. You can help your student by letting them know that they are not alone and that your support can go beyond conversations to making a plan and taking action to ease their stress. Collaborate with your student by offering specific things you can do to work through stressful times together. 

Some parents collaborate with their students by helping them create a schedule so that they can submit all of their college applications on time. Others collaborate with their kids by researching support systems and tools (like counselors, tutors, academic clubs, and study groups) to ease feelings of isolation during stressful times. 

Often the pressure of performing well takes a toll on a student’s mental health at some point during the school year. If going back to school is being met with feelings of hopelessness, collaborate to make a plan: talk about actionable steps to reaching their goals and maintaining their confidence at the beginning of the school year. This collaboration can start with a simple question of “How can I help you succeed this school year?” 

3. Set Goals 

When returning  to school, some students can get stuck in negative emotions; one way to work through the negative emotions is by setting goals for the future. Keep track of the big goals (like getting into college, making the varsity team, getting straight “As’, getting their driver’s license, getting the lead in the spring musical) and the small goals, too, (like completing homework everyday on time, joining an after-school club, and getting enough sleep every night). 

Have a conversation with your student about what they want for the future. Talk about their dreams. 

Keeping track of goals is a huge confidence boost for students. With such intense schedules, sometimes they finally reach the goal they have been working towards and barely take a moment to acknowledge their success. 

To support your student, start by talking about their goals, writing them down, and celebrating the wins when they happen. 

4. Help Establish A Routine 

A big stressor in many students’ lives is getting everything done in the day while still having enough time to see their friends and get enough sleep. One way you can help your student alleviate stress around time is by establishing a routine with them. Making sure your student is able to get enough sleep and prioritizing their studies can be easier said than done, but as a parent, you have the opportunity to set guidelines to help your child succeed. 

Loss of sleep is a major factor in our mental wellness. Going to school unrested limits a student’s potential for success: they are unfocused, their memory skills fail, and their moods decline. 

Building a routine for completing homework can be difficult with a packed schedule. One way you can help your student is by establishing a quiet space for them to do their homework every day. Working in the same space consistently is a simple way to minimize distractions. Maintaining a consistent routine signals to the brain that it is time to focus when your student enters that dedicated quiet space. 

Everyone works differently, but setting a routine is a good way to minimize the stress of getting everything done in one day. With a routine, your student knows what to expect daily and can feel accomplished at the end of the day when each task is complete. 

5. Set An Example Of Healthy Coping 

As we come out the other side of the pandemic, your student is likely looking to you to know how to react to the grief, stress, and major changes around them. Some of their peers may have lost parents, the entire structure of their schooling has shifted, and lives have changed since they were last in the classroom. 

If your student is returning to school after several years of remote learning, it is important that you are open about your own feelings and validate their concerns by talking about your own worries. You can let them know that they are not alone in this transition period by being honest about the shifts in your life. 

6. Talk About The New Normal 

Shoving awat the emotions and fears that come up with big changes in our lives will only amplify them when they resurface in the future. Denying a student’s emotions and concerns about the ways school is different now than it was before the pandemic is not productive or helpful. Conversations about their feelings should be ongoing, and as a parent, you can positively impact their mental wellness by opening doors for conversations and honest emotions. 

7. Positive Reinforcement

Tell your student that they are doing a good job. If they are struggling with their grades but working hard with their tutors or meeting with their teachers outside of class, then it is important that you offer positive reinforcement for their efforts. If they have a bad week in their math class, remind them of the challenges they overcame in the past. Acknowledging your student’s strengths and championing their successes is a crucial role to play as kids go back to school. 

8. Show Compassion and Understanding

As your student goes back to school, show compassion and understanding for the things that are bringing them stress or fear. Change is hard, and it feels good to know that someone has your back when schedules feel overwhelming, classes get harder, distractions increase, and a new normal falls into place. 

Whether your student is returning to a classroom for the first time after the coronavirus pandemic or just heading into the fall semester, going back to school is a time when students often need their parents’ aid in maintaining their mental wellness. FLEX College Prep offers tutoring services, online courses, and admissions consulting services designed to support students with busy schedules to reach their goals. If you are looking for another resource to aid your student’s academic success and mental wellness, consider how FLEX College Prep’s services can create structure and offer tools for success. 

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