Pixel Tracker

Friday, December 14 , 2018, 8:11 am | Fair 50º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Mentally Prepare Your Child for a Successful Return to School

Click to view larger
(Cottage Health photo via Shutterstock)

After helping families for two decades, Santa Barbara clinical psychologist Andrea Gurney Ph.D. clearly understands back-to-school anxieties.

With two daughters, ages 7 and 5, she can relate on a personal level, too. In fact, she just found herself reassuring her youngest about starting kindergarten.

She offers this wisdom for parents.

10 Ways to Mentally Prepare Your Child for School

» Get kids on a sleep schedule. Elementary school students should get as much as 10 to 11 hours a night. Teens could use at least eight to 10.

“Our brain functions best when we are well rested,” Gurney said.

Benefits go beyond being ready to learn.

“Emotionally, we are more stable, and we don’t have the highs and the lows,” she said.

» Talk and ask questions about school-related topics. Start a conversation about classes or classmates, and even bring up homework, “because there’s going to be some,” she said.

» Work together to create a structured school routine.

“For younger kids, it’s great to come up with a responsibility chart,” Gurney advised.

» Acknowledge feelings — including negative ones. Parents have a natural tendency to dismiss worries or jump into problem solving, when simply recognizing and relating to concerns can do wonders. You might say, “Oh, I totally get that,” or “That’s a bummer,” to show understanding and neutralize the conversation. Then you can problem solve together.

» See the school and teacher ahead of time. Most schools provide preview opportunities. You might also drop in when it’s not as busy to get a better look at a new school or more teacher time.

» Reassure and relate through picture books. There are plenty of titles for younger kids, including classics like Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.

» Set up a school work zone. Designate a drawer or desk, or simply select a common space like a kitchen nook. Decide together where it will be, based on what works best for the whole family.

» Talk through expectations, especially for older kids. The conversation can cover academics as well as extracurriculars, with goals to strike the right balance.

» Make back-to-school shopping fun. Let children be a part of picking out pencils, lunchboxes, backpacks and outfits.

“We can get kids more excited if we do it together,” Gurney said.

» Be a role model. Parents may have their own anxieties about the school year and responsibilities that go with it. Don’t dwell on it with your kids, but do talk with your spouse or another adult about concerns and look for other positive coping outlets for stress.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series