Friday, September 9, 2011

Lessons Learned From a Tween's First Week of School

Back to School is a heady time for tweens, especially if they're starting middle school. As parents, we do everything we can to ease the transition and celebrate the occasion. But still, every year I learn something new about the process.
This year's lesson is about Day Two - we all focus on the first day, but there's a whole rest of the week to contend with. Our tweens handled Day One just fine - a fun breakfast, new school supplies, etc. But Day Two we awoke to find a very anxious tween at the breakfast table. It dawned on us that her anxiety may have been placated by the attention of the first day, but the anxiety resurfaces in the absence of the hype. Her nervousness around finding classrooms, making friends, re-connecting with old friends, where to sit at lunch, etc. were all still too real.  Hence, our Lessons Learned From a Tween's First Week of School:
  • Schedule the familiar:  Arrange a time to hang out ("playdates" are passe for tweens) with a friend from the neighborhood afterschool. The girls can decompress with a familiar friend and do something other than think about fitting in. Plus, having a plan for what she's doing afterschool will be a convenient buffer should she hear of others' afterschool plans.
  • Breakfast is still important: We make a big deal about the first day of school, but the rest of the week is as important. Consider spreading out fun breakfast ideas over the course of the first week - maybe a big pancake breakfast on the first day, yogurt parfaits on the second day, egg sandwiches on the third day, etc.
  • Reach out to the new girl: Ask the new girl in class to join your tween for ice cream afterschool one day. She's likely even more nervous than your daughter, and it models the old adage: "the best way to have friends is to be one."
How did back to school go for your tween?

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