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Back to School Blues

How to Help Your Child Cope With Going Back To School

It's hard to believe, but summer is quickly drawing to a close, and soon kids (and their parents) all over the area will be faced with the inevitable return to school. For some, the routine and structure of the school day will be a welcome change of pace from the long, lazy, carefree days characteristic of summer. However, for most, "back to school" is one of the most despised phrases ever spoken. To make this annual ritual easier on you and your children, we offer the following advice:

Accentuate the Positive

You know your children – what do they like about school? If asked, every child could come up with at least a few things. Maybe the prospect of new clothes, shoes or a backpack is appealing. Perhaps there is a friend they haven't seen all summer. Does your child love music class or art or gym? Find out what your child likes about school and then point out how much fun returning to that particular activity will be.

Don't Dwell on the Negative

You say your child is unhappy about having to go to bed earlier and get up earlier? It's probably safe to say that not many kids are happy with that arrangement, yet it is necessary. But then, so are homework, test taking and book reports. The point is, there's little chance any of these things can be avoided, so it's best to teach your child at a young age to accept them as a required part of their life as a student.

Establish a New Back-to-school Tradition

Celebrate the first day back with a special dinner – either a home-cooked meal of the kids' choosing or dinner at a favorite restaurant. By turning the negative feelings about the return to school into something to be celebrated, your children's attitudes may become a bit more positive.

Don't Let the Fun End

Many kids loathe the start of school because they fear it marks the end of the trips and fun symbolic of summer. Yet in most of the country, late August and September is a beautiful time for outdoor activity. Plan a weekend getaway to the beach or mountains. Since Labor Day typically is the unofficial end of summer, chances are you will find bargain rates. If a weekend trip is out of the question, plan a backyard barbecue or a day trip to a favorite summer fun spot.

Get Involved

Share your younger children's school day by volunteering as a class parent, lunchroom monitor or playground aide. Most young kids love the idea of having a parent around school during part of the day. Knowing Mom or Dad is going to be around will likely make your child more excited about beginning a new school year.

If all else fails, begin a countdown to the start of next summer. If that seems even more depressing than the start of school, then begin counting down to the start of winter break. Having that light at the end of the tunnel may be all that your child needs to face the coming school year.

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