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Managing The Back To School Blues

Helping Your Child Get Back On Track

Back To School BluesIt’s that time of year again. The decorations have come down. You’ve finally managed to clean up all the wrapping paper. Holiday parties and sugar cookies have been replaced by resolutions and healthy eating. It’s official – winter break is over and school is back in session.

Even as an adult, you may find yourself feeling a little blue after the end of the holiday season. But with a hectic work and home life, it’s easy to move past those feelings and get yourself back into a normal routine. For Complex Learners, it’s not so easy.

If your child is exhibiting moodiness, increased anxiety, or more tantrums and tears than usual, she might be experiencing post-winter-break blues. Figuring out what specifically is causing your child’s behavior can help you understand what you can do to help. Take a look at 3 causes and tips to help get past the blues and back on track!

  1. Getting Back Into A Routine

After having multiple weeks off, shifting back into a cycle of waking up early and going to school can feel foreign and exhausting to your child. This can lead to a lot of resistance around his school day routine.

It might feel impossible to get your child out the door on time or to put down her tablet and go to bed. As difficult as it might be, this is a critical time for you to stick to your set routines. If you know that your child is at his best when he wakes up early and has a big breakfast, stick to that plan, no matter how much he may beg to sleep in. It might be time to bring back what you used to help enforce this routine at the beginning of the school year – like writing it down on the family calendar or utilizing a reward system.

Don’t be afraid to add some new elements to your routine if you think it will help in the long run. If your child is struggling to get back into her normal sleep schedule, try adding new elements to her bedtime routine. After a shower, you and your child can read together before lights out or take that time to decompress by sharing some highlights from your days. Or if you know your child gives his best effort on homework immediately after school, but it’s been a battle to get him to even start, try adding in a quick 10-minute physical activity together. Get some fresh air and walk the family dog or play a round of Simon Says. These little changes can feel like a reward to children, making the transition into doing the necessary tasks easier.

  1. School Work Is Getting Harder 

As the school year progresses, it’s no secret that schoolwork continues to advance with it. This means that reading assignments may be longer, math problems might be more complex, and overall expectations become higher. Students with complex learning differences are no strangers to school-related struggles, but having time off from school and the accompanying work and stress can make transitioning back more strenuous and can make your child feel defeated and anxious.

The biggest piece here is to talk with your child frequently about her struggles and feelings. Empathize with how difficult it must be to get back into the swing of things after not having to worry about expectations or assignments during the break. Assure him that you know he is capable and remind him that he has a team of supporters ready to cheer him on and help. Try to understand what specifically is causing your child to feel anxious – is it just one class? An upcoming assignment? Acknowledging these big feelings and realizing that she isn’t alone in feeling them can have a great effect on a child’s outlook.

If you do think that expectations are getting unmanageable or have concerns greater than just the post-winter break slump, don’t be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher. Teachers are just as invested in your child’s success as you are, and will want to help however they can. Use your own best judgment when it comes to setting up a private meeting with your child’s teacher or bringing your child with you. Sometimes being involved in the meeting can help your child understand that his teacher is an ally, not an enemy. Check out our recent blog for more tips on strengthening parent-teacher partnerships.

  1. Feeling Burned Out   

With the excitement of the holidays gone and school work getting harder, your student might just be burned out. This can be easy to miss since she is just coming off of a prolonged vacation. But during the school day, Complex Learners work hard academically and emotionally. It’s not easy to try to control your impulses all day, manage your reactions, remember social cues, and give a book report presentation. It can take a lot out of you!

If you feel your child is burned out, this might be the perfect time for you to find a new way for him to recharge. Maybe this is signing her up for a sports team or finding a reoccurring weekend activity, like a ceramics class. Giving your child an outlet outside of school for him to excel within can help restore his energy and confidence – which in turn can make him feel more prepared to take on any upcoming challenges.

With Winter Break over and Spring Break feeling lightyears away, this is also a great time to plan a fun outing for her to look forward to. Have him invite a friend out for some pizza and a movie or schedule a day to go visit his favorite museum. This can be a great motivator for Complex Learners and gives her a tangible event to look forward to!

The adjustment from vacation to school isn’t always an easy one but with some understanding and a few tricks up your sleeves – you can help your child shake his post-winter-break blues and see the blue skies ahead!

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