Aug 10 2010

Transitioning From Summer to School with Dr. Michele Borba

Before she sits in on The Today Show this week, parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba joined us this morning with advice for parents on how to help your kids transition from Summer to School ...

1.     Listen to your child’s school worries. Identify your child back-to-school worries and create simple solutions to reduce those you can. Most typical back to school worries involve these issues: “Will I be safe (and not get lost or get on the wrong bus)?” “Will I fit in (and be accepted by the other kids and find friends)?” “Will I be capable (and able to do the work)?” “Will the teacher be nice (and not yell or be too hard)?”  “Will Mommy come back?”


·      Learn the lay of the land. Boosting your child’s comfort zone about a new location helps reduce jitters. Take a tour of the school, check it out online or even print out a map and schedule


·      Don’t over-hype the school! “What a gorgeous campus!” or “You’re going to be soooooo happy here!” type of comments don’t ease jitters. In fact, they can backfire and cause more anxiety. So don’t build up false expectations so much as to disappoint your child if things fall short of your build-up. Keep your excitement to yourself.


3.     Find a buddy. Knowing just one classmate can minimize first day jitters so help your kid learn the name of at least one peer. The two kids don’t have to become soul mates –just acquaintances!  


4.     Prepare for separation. Rehearsing a goodbye can help a younger or more sensitive child feel more secure when the big moment really comes. Doing so also helps reduce anxiety so the child knows what to expect. Ease the back to school fears by slowly stretching your child’s “security” levels. Slowly increase the number of caregivers to second circle (teacher, friends) and finally outer circle (strangers). Gradually stretch separation times. Find people your child trusts—a babysitter, relative, or friends to be watch your child. Then “come and go” to help your child build confidence, recognize he can survive without you and you do come back.


5.     Create a special goodbye. Practice a special private “goodbye” just between the two of you like a secret handshake or special kiss to help your child start to pull away. Then tell him you’ll be using that same goodbye each time you drop him off. Here are a few ways to make goodbyes smoother and less stressful for both of you.   


6.     Teach coping skills. Studies at the University of Minnesota found that when kids feel they have some control over what’s happening, anxieties decrease and smooth the transition. Here are worry reducers to practice with your child.


·      Teach:Talk back to the worry.” Researchers at the University of McGuill found that teaching a child to “talk to back to the fear” helps reduce anxiety. The child so she feels she is in charge of the worry and not the other way around. The trick is to have your child practice telling herself she’ll be okay to build up confidence. For a younger child: “Go away worry, leave me alone. Mommy will come back.”  For an older child: “I won’t let the worry get me. I can handle this.”


·      Point him to “The first thing.” Not knowing what to do or where to go upon arriving at a new scene increases anxiety. So offer “first thing” suggestions. For a young child: Pointing her towards an activity she enjoys—like a puzzle or blocks. For an older child: Suggest he go to the basketball court that he enjoys or meet up with that acquaintance he met at the park near the water fountain.


7.     Say goodbye and don’t linger. A kid’s anxiety increases if you make too big of a deal about leaving or draw out the goodbye. The key is to establish a consistent pattern of goodbye so your child knows what ritual to expect, realizes she can make it through the time apart and that you really will return.



      Be patient but know when to worry. Adjustment may take from a day to several weeks, so be patient. For most kids separation anxieties are normal and pass. The key is to watch for a gradual increase in confidence and a diminishment of school and separation worries. If the anxiety continue or increase, check in with the teacher or counselor to see if they have suggestions to help your child adjust.

Comments (8) -

8/10/2010 7:08:29 AM
Jennifer United States
My biggest fear was forgetting my bus number even though it was the same bus the entire time i was in school, or missing the bus.
8/10/2010 7:17:39 AM
Teresa Rosendale United States
Teresa Rosendale
I'm listening to the show at this time.  Getting ready for school?  Definately take them a few days early.  The middle school that I work at (as a nurse) also has open house the night before the first day of school.  Gives the new/returning students a chance to meet the teachers, walk the halls (route of their classes), put their things in their lockers, and practice their combinations if they are nervous about that ;)
8/10/2010 8:06:29 AM
Greg Lowes United States
Greg Lowes
My girls are excited for school to start again. I have 3 daughters 12, 15 and 20. (Yes, please pray for me) I am so excited for them as they live for Christ at their schools and are impacting other kids by the way they live. The girls get so amp'd when they get one of their friends to say 'yes' to going to church with them. Church isn't a building we go to on Sunday, it's my three girls going to their schools and impacting this world for Christ! Nothing to fear!
8/10/2010 4:32:30 PM
Toni United States
Great topic!  Good advice!  Please remember to pray for all the adults who work at your children's schools too.  It's hard for us too, to get back into our "school routines"!  I LOVE teaching junior high but miss my intense bible study time of lazy summer days once school starts!
8/11/2010 9:33:13 PM
MONICA United States
I want prayer for my son Charles and my grandbaby Tanya, as they return to school. Charles will be in 10th grade, that God keep him safe, he is in that vulnerable age. He lives for Christ,but Mommy worries for her baby. For Tanya that God always protect her, to and from school, she is going into 2nd grade, and rides the bus. Grama worries for her too. Thank you fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. God bless.
8/12/2010 8:09:31 AM
Eladio Garcia United States
Eladio Garcia
As a former elementary school teacher and now substitute teacher I wanted to direct some comments directly at teachers.
We all get frustrated when there are behavior problems and distractions in the classroom. I know I had my share of frustrations.  As teachers we need to remember that these are human beings we are teaching.  We are the most influential people in these students lives.
I have often heard teachers say they can't stand a student, that a certain student is stupid, they wish a student wasn't in their class, etc.  What I want to say is that those comments directly affect the student.  You may not say the comment directly to the student, but they know how their teachers feel.
I would suggest to teachers to change their attitudes toward students.  Be a bit more positive with them.  If you ask a question and a student gives an incorrect answer, don't tell them they're wrong.  Say something like, "That's not quite the answer I was looking for."  I can guarantee that student, and others, will continue to try to answer.  That response can lead to some wonderful discussions.
Another trick I used to reinforce positivity in the classroom was the way I graded papers. I would indicate the number of correct answers, reinforcing what was done correctly, and not indicating the number of incorrect answers.
For those students who needed to be disciplined, and depending on the infraction, I would pull the student out of the classroom to discuss the infraction and let the student determine the consequence.  I would allow them 5 minutes to think about the consequence and have them tell me at that time.  I let them know that if they cannot decide, I would, and they would not like my consequence.
I believe if teachers would be more positive with their students, they would have a more efficient running classroom.
8/13/2010 12:36:31 PM
Marisa Orozco United States
Marisa Orozco
I want to pray for my children that are getting ready to go back to school, that GOD would protect them through this school yr and as they face peer pressure that he would help them make go choices in life. Devnie 12grade, Jaden 11grade and Zedrek 10grade. Thank you, God bless..    
8/18/2010 12:48:03 PM
Julia Rojas United States
Julia Rojas
Please pray for my children who are returning to school on Monday.  Jasmine, age 10, and Kobie, age 11, are both Christ followers and I want them to be bold in their faith and follow His way even when it's not the "cool" thing to do.  Thanks so much!!!
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