From our counselors
Beginning of School Resources

It is so wonderful to be starting a new year with our NPS Cardinals both returning and new! While this year looks and feels different, we are confident that the relationships that make NPS the special place that it is will be just as meaningful this year. As we begin our new school year, we thought it might be helpful to share some tips, ideas, and resources to help get your child’s school year off to a successful start.

Transitions

Just like the start of any school year, this year will be full of transitions. We all bring our past experiences with us to new situations and that can really shape our expectations. Help your child anticipate this year by thinking through questions such as: “What are some of the familiar aspects of school that they’ll encounter this fall even in distance learning?” “What might be new?” “What are they excited about?” “What are they wondering about?”

As this year progresses we expect that we’ll all be encountering various transitions and changes. It can help to plan for these changes while building resiliency. This can be done by identifying the coping strategies that your child has employed during past changes and challenges that can also be used with future changes and challenges. It is also helpful to model resisting the urge to remove challenges or uncomfortable feelings and instead tolerate discomfort and cope with uncertainty.

Structure and Routine

Just as we highlighted in our summer suggestions, predictable structure and routines help children feel secure, particularly in times of great change or uncertainty. As a family, we encourage you to create some routines for each day that will help structure the day. Routines and structure apply both to time and space and we’ve highlighted a few areas for you to consider.

  • You might begin by setting up a work space for your child. Consider what your child will need. Some might need privacy while others might need more supervision. Will your child work better being able to stand up or move in a safe way for short breaks? Would your child benefit from a fidgets bin or do they need fewer distractions? Check in frequently to assess how the space is meeting their needs and determine if anything needs to change. 
     
  • Create a flexible routine that includes time for class and school expectations, physical activity, family connection, socialization, and relaxation. Consider if your child or family would benefit from physical reminders of the routines such as calendars, daily lists, or check lists. Some younger children might benefit from pictures representing the various parts of their day. Reviewing the day ahead, either the night before or in the morning, can help children feel prepared and ready. As a family you might also each identify something you are looking forward to the next day.
     
  • When possible, keep routines similar to those that you found successful during off-school times, such as a regular wake-up time, regular times to eat, routine time outside, positive participation in social activities, regular bedtime, and more. It’s expected that you may see some mood changes as your child adjusts to the new school year; however, if these changes or behaviors are concerning to you, please reach out to your child’s teacher or NPS counselor.

Feelings

Just like with any new school year, this is a time of great adjustment and with that comes BIG feelings, sometimes double or triple dip feelings, as we call them as counselors. It is normal for children to feel anxious, disappointed, excited, confused, sad, frustrated, and everything else, particularly as they get used to a new grade, learning structure, class, and teacher. Below are some considerations for managing these big feelings as a family.

  • Make time and space for your child to share and process their emotions.
  • Model how you manage your emotions by sharing them and having conversations about the activities that help you cope.
  • Think about what mediums might help your child express themselves as some benefit from activities other than talking. Engage in play, physical activity and creative expression to help your child find their outlet for their emotions.
  • Make time to laugh, play, and be a family together.
  • Know that it is normal for children to struggle as they face new challenges, it’s normal for us ALL to struggle as we face new challenges. However, if you find that your child is struggling and becoming overwhelmed or discouraged and would benefit from extra support from their teacher or counselor, we are all on hand to work with your child on helpful strategies or be a listening ear.

Resources

You may be looking for some more resources that are easy to access and quick to consume, and we offer a few below that come in a variety of formats. We hope they might offer reassurance, guidance, and practical suggestions that will support you and your children.

Articles

How to Help Your Child with Screen Anxiety in Distance Learning
 

13 tips for Zoom Meetings and the Highly Sensitive Child
 

How to Create the Ideal Virtual Learning Space
 

How to Ask a Teacher for Help When You’re Virtual

Online Resources

The Ross Center Webinar | Pandemic Parenting: 5 Ways to Support Your Child During Remote Learning | September 10 at 6:30pm
*Registering for the webinar gives you access to the course materials any time even if you can’t attend the event as scheduled.

PEP Webinar | What Kids Really Need from their Parents During COVID-19 | September 15 at 8:00pm
*Registering for the webinar gives you access to the course materials any time even if you can’t attend the event as scheduled.

Educational Connections Webinar | Zoomed Out? 6 Strategies to Get Kids Focused, Engaged, and Motivated...Even the Reluctant Ones | September 23 at 12:15pm
*Registering for the webinar gives you access to the course materials any time even if you can’t attend the event as scheduled.

PEP Webinar | Motivating the Unmotivated Teen in COVID Times: Achieving the Unlikely with the Impossible | November 17 at 8:00pm
*Registering for the webinar gives you access to the course materials any time even if you can’t attend the event as scheduled.

JSSA Workshops and Groups

PEP Podcast series | Parenting with PEP During the Pandemic

In addition to the resources we’ve mentioned above, we encourage you to revisit the counselors’ page on the school website that we developed this spring. Here you will find a number of articles, tip sheets, and recordings gathered for you and organized by subject. This page will be updated this fall on various topics and with information about local resources, parenting webinars, and helpful articles.

Your counselors are here to help you and your children as we begin this new school year together.

Betsy Argintar, LICSW and Jeni Reklis, LPC, NCC