10 tips to deal with the After-School Collapse

Today’s post is written by guest author and Grammar School Counselor, Melissa Gossard.

Does your child collapse at the end of the school day?  You’re not alone. 

Kindergarten student, Savannah Varner, crashed even before she could touch her after-school snack.  Mom, Carly, says “She kindergartens so hard!”

We parents buy the right supplies, make sure the uniforms are clean, and provide a balanced breakfast.  Then we pray and send them off to have a great day.  But often the after-school pickup comes with all kinds of big feelings and sometimes even teary melt downs.  What happens to your sweet child at 3:45pm?  

The complex process of learning all day is what happened! The transition back to school is exciting, but also exhausting for our children.  They are adjusting to new faces of authority and new expectations.  They can no longer graze for snacks throughout the day like they did during the summer.  And sometimes they are spending more waking hours with their school family than with you at home. 

They are working the entire day to regulate their emotions and navigate the highs and lows of being on their own without you beside them.  They hold it together and manage challenges all day, but then melt down in the car or at home later when they know they are safe to release the flood of emotions they have experienced.  The struggle is real and very common! 

Here are a few tips to help your child during this transition: 

1.  Strive for earlier bedtimes the first few weeks of school and be sure to build in time for a healthy breakfast. 

2.  At the end of their school day, greet your child with a gentle spirit.  Remember they are often physically and mentally exhausted! 

3.  Feed them a healthy snack to help their blood sugar level which will in turn help their mood stabilize.  

4.  Give them time to rest quietly in the car. Turn on some calm music and wait for them to share about their day instead of peppering them with questions. 

5.  If they seem hesitant to share about their day, ask them specific high and low questions.  (“What was your high point and low part of the day?”)  However, you may want to wait until the dinner hour if they don’t seem ready.   

6. If your student is sharing something negative, make sure to listen and reflect and acknowledge the feelings they are having. Then challenge them to list a few things they are grateful for too.   

7.  Take advantage of calm moments to discuss change and transitions.  Remind them that everyone needs time to adjust to a new routine, and it will get easier.  

8. Ask them to think about a specific change in the past when they persevered.  Confidently remind them that they are fully capable of doing hard things.   

9.  Connect with the teacher if their struggle seems excessive and doesn’t seem to be getting easier.   

10.  Be patient and trust our good and faithful God!