Back to School: Adjustment Challenges
Transitioning back to school is always shockingly more difficult than I expect. The night before my kids’ first day back, despite being super excited, they go to bed easily. On the surface, neither by daughter nor my son seemed fazed at all. On their first day of school, I made an effort to snuggle with them on the couch when they got off the bus. I gave them a special snack and we talked about their day. They both said it was GREAT! After about 15-minutes, with no homework on the docket, we turned on the TV and I picked back up my computer to work.
All seemed normal….then my daughter got up and announced she was going to her room, where she then remained until dinner. Shortly after she left, my son also went to his room. My kids very rarely play alone in their room so you can imagine my surprise. But it was their first day back and I was actually proud they realized they needed some time to decompress.
After the second day, my kids came off the bus FULL of energy. They were bouncing off the wall and the bus driver indicated he had also felt the energy of the kids on the bus. My kids went a little crazy – running around, playing rough with each other. Thank goodness my husband had plans to take them out to buy soccer cleats because they just needed to a task to focus on. It was at the moment I remembered just how difficult it is going from lots of outdoor play time and freedom at camp to a structured, more focused school day. It is a big adjustment.
As I tucked my daughter in that night, thinking all was right in our home, she burst into tears. She “claimed” she wasn’t feeling well and asked if she could stay home from school the next day. There were so many reasons she was sad. She missed her old classmates; she missed her best friend who is a year older and transitioned to a new school/bus. She missed her teacher and oddly enough, she said she missed the math worksheets she did in her old class. (Yes, I tried not to laugh when she told me this). She didn’t like that everything was longer too. If I understand it correctly, each subject they work on, they do so for 15-minutes more this year. She said she had no one to play with at recess and she was also struggling to find a friend in class.
In our town, our schools are not districted but rather separated by grade level. My daughter’s school is 2nd & 3rd grade only and in her grade there are approximately 225 kids, divided among 21 classrooms. While she’s been in the public schools for 4 years, participates in town sports and after school activities, it came as little surprise (but much disappointment) when her class list arrived this summer and we only recognized one other girl in her class. We knew it would be a tough transition for her. Her brother was fortunate enough to have 6 boys in his class that he knew. He would have no problem adjusting.
Fostering Open Communications
We sent our kids off to school on the third day with lots of encouragement for a good day and emphasis on the long weekend ahead of us. We gave our daughter extra praise as to what a great girl she is and how she needs to put herself out there to make new friends – we know she can do it. We talked through some tips for making new friends. My heart broke for her last night, but I also know these first few weeks back to school will be an adjustment. The most important thing I can do as a parent is to help her foster new friendships and reassure her it will get better in the coming weeks.
What is your child adjusting to as he/she returns to school?