Monday, September 1, 2014

School Days - By Elizabeth S. Giammarco, PhD, LCPC, NCC

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days ~ Will Cobb and Gus Edwards

Even though the calendar might still say summer, the shelves of nearby stores that are loaded with pencils, pens, writing paper, and backpacks say otherwise. For some, school has already begun; whereas, for others, the day after Labor Day starts the academic year.

Whether one has already started school or is waiting for September 2nd, chances are that there is a myriad of emotions that goes along with shopping. Children who are entering school for the first time may struggle with feelings that go from wanting to be with friends and have fun to experiencing the proverbial stomach ache as the time draws closer to boarding the bus. Then too, are students who are going off to college. While some may see the time as an opportunity for growth and grown-up experiences, others may see it as being quite traumatic. 

Parents and teachers are not exempt from back to school jitters. Parents, who want to see their children grow and learn, may still worry about them and how they will get along. Teachers also may experience anxiety and apprehension as to what the new year will bring. For all, expectations of what the first days will be like can be equivalent to a double-edged sword with apprehension on one side and excitement on the other.

Some things to consider when back-to-school worries occur are that these feelings are normal and that by the second or third week into the semester, for the most part things will have fallen into place. However, if students are still having problems with adjusting, communication is key to understanding their fears and worries. Listening to what they have to say and offering suggestions may help. Also, most schools and colleges have counselors who are able to help students and families who may be having a difficult time adjusting. 

Whether it is seeing a youngster off for the first day of school or helping a son or daughter move into dorms, parents who are having a hard time with an “empty nest” will fare better if they have a good support system in place so they can air their feelings and concerns. Getting together with other parents may help as well. 

Yet, another way that I suggest that may aid with the growing pains parents have to face is for them to take a class in something they might like such as photography, painting, canoeing, etc. Being able to get into the educational field helps with understanding it and also gives parents and students something in common to talk about.

Whether one is a parent, student, or teacher, school days do not have to be school daze. There are ways to lessen the stress and anxiety that comes with it. Being able to concentrate on the positive aspects, such as greeting new experiences, will help. Also remembering that summer is just nine months away is something to look forward to.

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