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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Back-to-School Stress

Welcome to the late days of summer/ the early days of fall when students head back to school.  Some require new uniforms or clothing, definitely books and school supplies, permission slips and lunches, after-school care or extracurricular sports and activities.  It’s a whirlwind for parent and child alike.

It’s stressful, whether the positive, I-can’t-wait-to-meet-my-new-teachers-and-get-started, or the more negative, how-will-I-ever-get-through-another-school-year?  Maybe the kids are more of the former, and the parents, more of the latter-!

If you’re thinking that I don’t know what I’m talking about because we’re homeschoolers, think again.  I was not born under a rock, back in the Dark Ages, and I do have a lot of friends whose children are in regular schools.  I also get out and about, probably more than the average, suburban parent, if you count international travel in the mix.

Four years ago, we were bringing home our second son.  Hotter than Hades in our part of Russia in August, Russia’s first day of the school year, September 1st,  was just around the corner.  We had brought plenty of clothes for Pasha, guesstimating his size, since our required visitation on the previous trip was all of… ten minutes!  While parents generally had several hours together, over several days, we had no time to measure him, but I knew I could hem any pants that might be too long, or take in the waist with a few quick darts.  During the daytime, if there was no official business, the boys wore shorts, sandals, and polo shirts.  As we strolled through the markets looking for dress shoes and tennis shoes for him, vendor after vendor called out to us, absolutely certain that our boys needed black pants and white shirts for the first day of school.

“Nyet, spasee’bah,” I waved them off, realizing that the back-to-school stress was the same the world over.

With internationally-adopted older children, there could be another layer of fear and dread with which to deal.  “Is the teacher going to beat me?”  “Will the other students laugh because I don’t know English?”  “Will I have any friends?”  “Will I understand the coursework?”

In our home this year, three out of four started with a new curriculum provider in late summer.  The books, the methods, the tests and quizzes had all changed.  Many were the moans and declarations that this simply could not be done.  No other children on the face of the earth had suffered similarly as ours.  We were requiring the impossible, and it would take them years, at least, to finish each day’s lessons…..


So we started scaling back.  There was a lot of hooplah going on—finishing camps, my father passing away, there are some things you just can’t control.  Other things, we let slide a bit, simply to balance out the stress levels.

Reinforcing the basics went a long way toward ensuring success.  Having a firm schedule (up at the same time every day set their internal time clocks, to bed at a reasonable hour even in the summer, enough time for sports and study) and well-defined order (clean rooms, stacked books, new supplies of paper, notebooks, pens, and pencils) helped to get us on our way.  Clothes were laid-out the night before, down to socks, shoes, and underwear.  Lunches were also planned the day ahead.  Nothing was left to chance.

This year, take charge.  If possible, start with a snack and homework right after school.  There will be time for other activities.  Ensure your child’s success by helping them to breathe through the stressful moments, and build them up before they head into their studies.

You can do this!  Here’s to a great school year.



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