A guide to going back to school gracefully, easily

By U.S. ArmyJuly 29, 2019

Capt. Stephanie Hennessy

Behavioral Health Officer

35th Signal Brigade

Capt. Ryan Sever

Clinical Psychology Intern

Department of Behavioral Health

Eisenhower Army Medical Center

It's about that time of year again, parents. Summer break can be a great time to relax and lose track of time. Back-to-school means structured days and time commitments.

Shopping for school supplies, settling in to school-time routines, and preparing for that first week back can bring a mixture of emotions. Some children are eager to start off the school year- they might pack and re-pack their supplies, rehearse their schedule, and sleuth out which friends will be in what class.

For others, the back-to-school experience is met with disgruntled reluctance. Anticipatory and performance anxiety can affect children of any age. Here are some tips to help settle their nervous minds:

Prepare early

Imagine the frustration of visiting a school supply aisle the day before school begins; glue nowhere in sight, 17 hot pink safety scissors but your child insists on purple, college-ruled loose-leaf paper falling off the shelves … Inevitably, similar supply lists in Columbia and Richmond counties lead to supply shortages. Preparation and timing are keys to successful execution. Try to apply these values when transitioning back to the school year. If you can, get ahead of the game by purchasing school supplies and clothes well in advance of the first day of school.

Tax-free holidays are a great time to save a few dollars; Georgia's back-to-school sales tax holiday is July 31 to Aug. 1.

Get into a routine

Adapt to school routines the last week of summer by moving bedtimes earlier and setting alarm clocks.

As morning routines often take longer than expected, rehearsing without the added pressure of being on time helps to build confidence and independence. Consider a written schedule in a central location. Children are still learning the concept of time and often need visual cues to stay on track.

Get creative

Combat the monotony of a daily routine by trying new things. Browse family friendly internet sites with your child for some great ideas on how to make creative meal-prepped lunches. Build a sense of pride for homework by working with your child to design a homework space. This can be a great way to get a child in the mood to study and feel excited about doing homework.

Know when to seek help

While a smörgåsbord of behaviors and emotions can be normal, some of the following are indications that your child might need more than parental encouragement to start the year off right:

• Refusing to go to school

• Increase in disruptive behavior

• Unexplained somatic symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)

• Difficulty sleeping

If you observe a child in your life struggling with what appears to be an excessive amount of back-to-school jitters, there is help available. Active duty service members can contact the Child and Family Behavioral Health Clinic, Building 327, at 706-787-8650, or use the Military and Family Life Counseling Program in Army Community Services, 706-791-3579. DA civilians are encouraged to seek help by visiting their insurance provider's website and searching for available behavioral health providers.

School Liaison Officer

Military installations across the world have School Liaison Officers dedicated to easing the school transition process. Fort Gordon's SLO, located within School Support Services, is Melissa Barrickman, 44th Street, Bldg. 44401, 706-791-7270, Email: Melissa.a.barrickman.naf@mail.mil. Website: https://gordon.armymwr.com/sss.