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The Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.

Mālama Ola Minute: Easing back-to-school stress

Aug. 22, 2022

You accidentally overslept. Your youngest keiki canʻt find their left shoe (how do you lose an entire shoe?). Your other keiki isnʻt even out of bed yet. The first morning of back to school is off to a bad start and you haven’t even left your hale yet! You pack the keiki into the car, your coffee spills all over your lap, and traffic is gridlock. By the time you get to campus, your stress level is through the roof.

These events are all part of life, but it’s how you react to them that makes all the difference. Here are some tips for handling the inevitable stress that comes with the return to school.

Getting prepped the night before
A good morning often starts with actions you take the night before. Organize backpacks, lunch or snacks, and even the next day’s outfit before you put your keiki to bed. Ensure that keiki get enough sleep. Setting and keeping a sleep schedule is crucial. Children respond positively to routines. Consistency is key. It’s not just keiki who benefit; parents will sleep easier knowing they are ahead of the game in having them ready for school.

Communication is key
Ask your keiki about their worries or fears about returning to school. Talk with them about these uncertainties and come up with ideas on how to be flexible in dealing with change. You can also discuss what they liked about the last school year and see how those positives can be incorporated into the new school year. And now that school has started, be sure to take the time to listen to your children about how their school day went and reassure them if any issues come up.

Model calm, balanced behavior
Keiki model their behavior after their parents. If our kids see us panicked, irate and flustered, they can pick up on those cues and possibly model that behavior. Parents should try to be aware of their own emotions and model good behavior for managing stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, pause and take a few deep, slow calming breaths. You can even announce to your kids that you are doing this breathing exercise, and invite them to join in.

Ka ʻike a ka makua he hei na ke keiki.
The knowledge of the parent is absorbed by the child.



How Families Can Support Student Health and Emotional Well-Being
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dealing with the Back-to-School Blues?
American Psychological Association

Handling Back-to-School Anxiety
Stanford Medicine Childrenʻs Health

Back to School Anxiety
Child Mind Institute

malama ola minute, back to school

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