“Back to School!”

These words bring up a range of emotions for parents and caregivers. Excitement, anticipation, celebration, the joy of new adventures and challenges, worry, stress, anxiety. Now, think about what the kids and teens in your life are experiencing. It’s probably amplified. We encourage you to take time to set a foundation of communication for your kids and teens as you all enter the upcoming school year.
Here are a few ideas to create this foundation:

  • Set time aside to do something together that your child or teen loves. Set aside
    distractions and be present.
  • See shopping together for school as an opportunity for talking together.
  • Schedule a regular snack time and hold that space as important and special.
  • Do chores together. Find times to listen and connect over the routine.
  • Go for a regular walk or favorite outside activity.
  • Play a board game or video game together.
  • Have a family meal night.
  • Go camping (even in the yard or living room).

The idea is to create spaces of time to connect. After the stage is set, allow the conversation to happen naturally. Here are a few questions you might want to include:

  • How are you feeling about school starting next week?
  • What interests you most?
  • Who are you looking forward to seeing?
  • What classes are you excited about?
  • What classes are you not looking forward to?
  • Is there anything about school that you’re worried about?
  • Who is someone that you could go to for help at school? Help them connect if they are going to a new school and check back on this one. It’s important for kids to have at least one trusted adult at school that they feel a safe connection with.

You might want to create a daily check-in prompt that works for your family. A parent once shared with us that they do a “roses and thorn” check-in at the end of each day. “What was something beautiful or exciting (the rose) and what is something that was hard (thorn)?” Others do a “+,-, delta” check-in. “What is a positive, negative, and something you would go back and do differently or want to change?”

Allow space for the answers without judgment. Ask follow up questions, but don’t feel that you have to solve everything. Reflect back on what you think you’re hearing, like “I think I’m hearing that you’re really excited to go back, but maybe a little worried about finding someone to sit with at lunchtime?”
Want to work on your communication skills? Healthy Lamoille Valley is planning to offer some Askable Adult workshops this fall. Email info@healthylamoillevalley.org with the subject line “Askable Adult” to get on the interested list.

Another great resource for parents/caregivers and anyone with youth in their life is ParentUpVT which offers support and guidance for parents and caregivers who need to address topics like substance use and mental health with their kids.

Healthy Lamoille Valley is here for you! We regularly meet with parents and community members to partner in support of healthy and drug-free youth! Also look for our table at many area school open houses this fall!

Please reach out to us:
Jessica@healthylamoillevalley.org (Coalition Coordinator, including parent outreach and supports)
Brian@healthylamoillevalley.org (Youth Coordinator, including most things youth related)
Alison@heathylamoillevalley.org (Policy and Community Outreach Coordinator, including Timewise, Coaching Collaborative, Tobacco Taskforce, municipal and business initiatives)
Em@healthylamoillevalley.org (Communications Coordinator, including publications, surveys and data)