Starting the New School Year Strong

By Marsha Anderson

After the lazy days of summer, parents and students are beginning to prepare for those first days of school. How can parents help make the transition for their child go more smoothly? Gentle encouragement and a lot of listening seems to work best, according to Chaminade staff.  

“It’s important for parents to encourage their child to be open and take advantage of opportunities early on to make social connections and engage in school life,” says Chaminade Middle School Admissions Director Mary Guerra.

Also, she says, “Be hands-on in the beginning, with frequent check-ins to make sure your student is acclimating and adjusting to their new school. If they are not, lean into whatever school support systems are in place to help with this transition.”

Suggest to your child that they study the school website to identify a few clubs, activities, or sports they might want to participate in once school starts. Clubs and teams build a quick sense of belonging and help with new class jitters.  

Students who become active in something outside of class build their sense of connection with the school and make new friends. Whether it’s a particular club or a sport, the main thing is to encourage your student to become involved.

As Admissions and Enrollment Management Director for the high school Greg Klee P’19, P‘20, explains, “Chaminade is like a big academic amusement park – Disneyland is only the ‘happiest place on Earth’ if you get off the bench on Main Street and ride the rides! That is the only way to find out what you love and what you want to ride again.”

Encourage your student to assess their strengths and interests for both classes and the more than 56 teams and activities Chaminade offers.

Apart from sports and clubs, Chaminade’s robust year-round retreat program will also be a time for growth for your child, where they will have multiple opportunities to reflect on their faith and relationships with others and the world.

High School therapist Kathryn Howard reflects that kids are older now, and they are getting back to the routine of school. Parents can focus on things that will help their child reduce stress.

So where do they start?

“First and foremost, have a conversation with your child about what they want for the new school year. Suggest that they think about what went well (and what didn’t) about the past school year,” she says.

“It’s most important to have healthy communication. As kids get older, parents need to step back from advice-giving and start to provide guidance, support, and validation. Remind them that they have both personal and school resources and strengths to manage the changes presented by the new school year. Let them know that you believe in them.”

By focusing on listening and having a conversation with their child, parents will be helping to build independent learners, and that’s the overarching goal for this age group.  

To a positive and successful new school year!