Nerves can get the best of us, no matter the age. Now that the dust has settled, back to school routines are established and (hopefully) the nervous butterflies have abated. Homework, projects and group work are getting doled out and are part of the every day workflow. No matter what age you or your child is, there’s always something new to navigate.

We tapped our Auburn Lane team to get the scoop on how to manage BTS and the roller coaster of emotions that can go with it. Whether you’ve just whisked your first born off to Kindergarten, or you have a son or daughter off to University, we have some ideas on how to support your child through every stage. Courtesy of BIC, we also chatted with parenting expert and BIC spokesperson Kathy Buckworth about how to navigate the sometimes tricky evolution from back to school to the reality of the a new routine.

Roach Girls

Libby- two daughters, aged 12 & 9
I always remind my kids that learning is a process, making mistakes is part of the journey. You can’t expect to know stuff right off the bat. Anything that is worthwhile knowing takes time. And always ask questions, no question is too stupid, there’s likely a few other people that are thinking the same thing.

Heather – son aged 12 and daughter aged 10

I have a running dialogue with my kids on how to get the most out of the school year. Listen in classes, advocate for yourself (if you don’t understand, ask it to be explained) and try something new. We also set goals (like getting homework done before electronics!).

For my daughter, we spend a lot about what it means to be nice and accepting and to look out for those who may need a friend. All too often we hear about girls being mean to one another but I try to focus the conversation on how we can support each other.

Sonya- 18 year old in first year university and a 14 year old starting high school
For the university kid…

Pace yourself. Whether it be with school work or socially with friends, it’s all part of the experience but you don’t want to burn out.

You will meet all different personalities but know that you’re all in the same boat. They are all probably feeling the same way but remember everyone handles things differently. Everyone will settle down after the first few weeks. Once the learning starts and reality sinks in, everyone will find their place.

And specifically for my older kid…You are welcome to come home anytime.

Kathy Buckworth

Q: How do you balance creativity with homework? If your child is super keen on the artistic side, how do you engage and encourage them to do the basics?

A: Creative students love to find new ways to complete their homework. Once the basics are down, such as writing a paragraph or doing a math equation, have them try to visualize the answer and draw it out as well. Make the words come alive and use BIC Gel-ocity Quick Dry gel pens or new BIC Cristal Up ballpoint pens to add excitement, colour and fun for creative minds. Submit the work to the teacher and keep it as a reminder and piece of artwork.

Q: If your child is easily distracted doing homework, what are the best strategies to keep them on track? How do you motivate your child to want to do their best?

A: It’s important for students to have a homework routine and it can be easier if you pick the same time every day for them to do their homework. Start by mapping out a homework plan or to-do list using different colour pens for different tasks and priorities to stay organized. I really like using the new BIC Gel-ocity Quick Dry gel pens for this as they come in really vibrant colours and can make this step more fun. Schedule half hour breaks if you feel they need them and make sure they have a quiet space, not in a noisy kitchen or in front of a blaring TV. I also suggest taking away their phone, or any screens, and then simply leave them to it. Don’t hover. Motivation doesn’t have to be based on a series of rewards and punishments, rather encourage them by showing them their own progress through the years. Don’t compare them to a high achieving sibling or friend. They need to find their own inner motivation, and this is done by building their self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

Q: What are the best ways to curb anxiety while doing homework? Is taking breaks to bust boredom a good idea? Or just distraction?

A: Making homework a part of their day is the best way to take away some of the anxiety. Don’t wait until late in the evening, or worse, in the morning before school starts. Taking breaks can be effective if you use a timer and have a scheduled short break for them to check their phones or have a snack. Otherwise, they will be tempted to do both while doing their homework. Ask them to save their questions for you until their breaks – chances are they’ll figure out the answer for themselves before then.

Q: If your child is over programmed or has a heavy workload how do you balance precious family time with all their other schedules?

A: Try to have family meals together whenever you can, without distractions such as screens. Check their workload frequently and if it seems too much, consider postponing an extracurricular activity until their school schedule opens up a bit more. Work with them to set goals, both long and short term, for getting through busy periods and map out your goals together using bright, fun and colourful supplies. I like to use BIC Gel-ocity Quick Dry gel pens, so it doesn’t feel like work! Also, don’t forget to check in with them frequently to see if they feel overwhelmed; some students actually thrive on being extra busy.

Q: And if your child doesn’t get along with their teacher how do you help them cope with different personality conflicts?

A: One of life’s lessons is learning to get along with people with whom you have conflict. This starts at an early age and can go on into the workplace, and with other adults in social settings. Talk through the differences and remind them that they are there to learn from the teacher, and above all, they should respect them for that. With teens it can be a little trickier, if they aren’t interested in talking about the conflict, try activities that are visual in nature, like journaling with BIC Cristal Up ballpoint pens. This can be a great way for them to reflect on how they feel before jumping to negative outcomes – then you can plan together how to tackle the situation.

Trying to get them moved to a different class with a different teacher should be your last resort. This sets up a bad precedent for their future relationships. Above all, if you are not a fan of the teacher yourself, don’t share that sentiment; it will only make the situation less tenable for them. Deal with the school’s administration if there is a real problem, outside of a personality conflict.

Lead photo by Libby Roach. Thanks BIC for the sample trial pack!