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Supporting Your Child with Returning to School This Fall.

With the new school year on the horizon, I am often pondering with myself and the families I serve how to best advocate for your child while supporting your child on how to advocate herself. I am child therapist, a mother of two, and a handful of my closest friends are teachers. The advice I am sharing today comes from my own experiences with my kiddos along with the wisdom of my teacher friends.
First off, set your child up for success!
From observation and dialogue with your child’s teachers, identify what type of learner your child is. Examples stem from visual learner, experiential learner, and or project-based learner. From there, list your child’s strengths. Write a quick thank note to their teacher for 2016/2017 school year. Thank them for being your child’s teacher and add a quick sketch on how they thrive; such as, sitting in the front of the classroom or support with picking out suitable reading material. Follow up with the teacher on best ways to communicate and schedule a face-to-face conference in a month, once the she has a sense of your child. I also include a box of tea or chocolate.

Now, let’s get your child on-board with how to assert themselves at school.
A week or two before school starts, create a list naming her goals for the new school year. Make this a creative art project: bring out the art supplies. I suggest breaking the list into four categories: social, academic, home-life, and extra-curricular. This creates a map that will guide your child. And, something you can use to motivate them throughout the year.
Next, I encourage my kids to get to know their teachers and have their teachers get to know them. This is done by introducing themselves the first days of school and sharing one thing that happened over the summer. In return, they are to learn one thing about their teacher. Model this for them. Talk to their teacher and build a rapport. My daughter had difficulty asserting herself with her 5th grade teacher. Her teacher was often marking words wrong on her spelling tests which were correct. But, my daughter was too scared to approach her. Her stinky thinking was teachers are unapproachable, teachers are scary. Together, we met with her teacher. Her teacher disclosed how she is human and often makes mistakes. She then encouraged my daughter to always advocate for herself. Stating, when students reach out to her and assert themselves, she will often side on the behalf of the students when they are between grades. Bam! We’ve created a game. My daughter is to ask her teacher three questions a day and as a reward at the end of the week, she picks out where we go out to eat. This has taught her teachers are not scary.
May it be a great school year, academically, social and emotionally! Set your kids up for success at school and beyond by being their cheerleader and emphasize the importance of advocating for oneself.
Here’s to good brains and good relationships!
Wesley Stahler, LMFT, ECMH, RDT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Early Childhood Mental Health Clinician
Registered Drama Therapist
LMFT 51269