About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to school ... or how to manage stress in a house with one elementary, one secondary, and one university student!

This week, I have been involved with some activities and classes involving our Bachelor of Education students at Laurier. They start at the university two weeks before the regular programs in September. This is a good thing in many ways because it gets them into elementary schools as teachers are preparing their classrooms and then welcoming children into them.

However, this early start also exasperates the stress in our household as we prepare for the transition for all of us back to school. This year we have one child in gr. 7, one child in gr. 11, and one starting university. This is in addition to me starting "back" into my regular teaching duties at the university, as well as for my wife, who also works at the university, the increase in her hours. It can be a stressful time of the year as so many changes are happening and expectations are developing.

So how do we deal with the stress of this time of the year? Well, sometimes not so well :)  Like any family, we have our share of struggles with making this transition a smooth one.

But I've found a couple of things which can really help at this time of the year. Here are three simple things that seem to work for us:

1. Getting back into the habit of a regular sleep. Children especially seem to be impacted by this. In our case, our youngest child has been up much later than normal during the summer. He functions better when he has had a good sleep.

2. Planning in advance. We try and make sure that we are not too rushed in the mornings by having things ready in advance. This can include everything from having the coffee ready to turn on in the morning, to having clothes laid out, to having lunches and backpacks (and briefcases) ready to go.

3. Talking through the transition and the stress. Sometimes simply voicing our recognition that this can be a stressful time helps "normalize" and validate the stress that we are all experiencing. Last night, I told my son that we needed to make a real effort to get moving in the morning (he to hockey camp and me to teaching - all before 8:30) and the morning went amazingly smoothly, despite fog and backed up traffic. Talking about the stress of the year helps our children give a "voice" to what they are experiencing and observing.

The stress of this time of the year is not necessarily a bad thing but it is important to remember that we need to manage the stress that goes with preparing for school and other key transitions in our lives. Please feel free to comment about how you manage the stress and transition that occurs in your context.

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