Tag Archives: children

Homesickness in College Students

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

One of the main causes of distress in students is homesickness. According to the UCLA Higher Education Institute, over 30% of college students experience low-level homesickness, and about 69% of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family — it’s the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they’re nearby, out-of-state, or studying in a foreign country, college students are not only experiencing a new phase of life, but they’re also at a new school, in a new place.

Although it’s normal to feel homesick, wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or not wanting to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures may quickly make homesickness grow. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more serious mental health issues if not taken seriously.

Last year, Assist America worked on a severe case of homesickness, helping an 18-year-old student from Germany who was hospitalized after his homesickness transformed into serious depressive episodes.

In the weeks leading up to his hospitalization, the student had shown increased signs of homesickness, including mentioning that he wanted to go home, a decrease in the desire to participate in activities and social events, and suicidal thoughts.

After a while, his roommates told the university staff about his behavior, and he was later admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged for transportation supervised by a medical escort to take him back to Germany.

Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventive measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

For Parents

  • You can help your child prepare for college life by visiting the campus ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with its surroundings.

  • In the years before college, consider sending your child to summer camps, activities, or to visit family away from home , so they can gradually learn to deal with separation anxiety.

  • Avoid expressing your own anxiety about your child leaving for college in front of them. Instead, talk optimistically and positively about their new experiences to come.

  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus. These relationships will help them build connections in their new community and ease the transition.

  • Consider sending little surprise care packages to your child. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book, gift cards to their favorite stores, a letter, and a funny family photo.

  • Make the most of technology. Staying in touch on the phone or through video chat is easier than ever and can help the whole family feel connected.

For Students

  • Stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students get used to college culture.

  • Establish and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s difficult to stay on track with exams and events around every corner. Routines are good for dealing with stress and anxiety and will help you adjust to your new community and class schedule.

  • Feeling homesick is normal, as long as you can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, keep a family picture on your study table, video-chat often, or go old-school and write letters to family and friends back home.

  • Find ways to reward yourself as you make gains in your new routine. For instance, after submitting an important assignment or taking a big exam, take some time to do something fun or treat yourself with something you like.

  • If campus is only a drive away, you and your parents and friends can plan a few weekends throughout the school year to visit each other on campus, at home, or to meet at a halfway-point.

  • When packing for college, take some of your favorite decorations from your room to make your new room feel more like home.

  • Know what services are available to you to help you cope with homesickness. Too often students don’t realize all the things their college has ready to help them with exactly these issues. Never shy away from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about these services. Or you can look into these services privately on your school’s website.

While Studying Abroad

  • Students who study abroad are even more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet all new people from many backgrounds.

  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who you can ask questions and how and where to get help. Before leaving, create a reference list with the names, contact details, and roles of people that will be helpful during your stay. Once you arrive, be sure to add anyone important you meet to your list. 

  • Schools often have an international student department who will organize welcome events and get-togethers. Be sure to attend those activities, especially at the beginning of your time abroad.

  • Many international programs also have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining these groups to make connections and prepare before leaving home.

  • Make friends with people from the same country as you. When you’re missing home, spend time together. Your shared experience of studying abroad can make you feel a little closer to home.

How Assist America Can Help

Assist America provides useful services that can reassure parents and students studying out-of-state or abroad.

For example, Assist America can help students find where and how they can refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.

Students who know they will need to see a doctor while away from home can call us or Assist America for referrals. Assist America also provides emergency trauma counseling for students on the phone, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.

Finally, students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the mobile app to familiarize themselves with their destination.

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Children’s Vision and Learning Month

Children’s Vision and Learning Month

It’s Children’s Vision and Learning Month, and you’d be surprised how important vision can be to learning.

1 in 10 children have a vision problem significant enough to affect their ability to learn.

Children's Vision and Learning

 

20/20 vision means you can see at a distance, but it doesn’t mean a child can focus, coordinate, and track with their eyes, which can impact their performance in school.

Vision and Focus at School

 

Children with vision problems can be misdiagnosed with ADHD because they have poor reading comprehension, skip or reread lines, take longer to do school work, or show a short attention span.

Mistaken ADHD Diagnoses Based on Vision Issues

 

Teaching your kids skills like using scissors, drawing, painting, and handwriting before school can help them establish hand-eye coordination, be ahead in school, and help you spot potential eye problems.

Teaching Hand-Eye Coordination

 

School vision screenings provide less than 4% of the eye tests needed to help kids see, and they can miss up to 75% of vision problems.

School Vision Screenings

 

61% of children who were found to have eye problems through school screenings are never taken to the doctor to get help.

Going to the Eye Doctor

 

Yearly comprehensive vision exams with an eye doctor are the best way to protect your child’s sight and make sure they’re prepared to learn at school.

Exercise with Your Child Week

Exercise with Your Child Week

It’s Exercise with Your Child Week, and we can help your family get moving all week.

How much exercise do your kids really need at different ages? 

How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

 

If you’re trying to squeeze in a quick workout with your kids, here are 10 exercises you can all do together.

How to Exercise At Home with Kids

 

Dad can make playing with the kids a workout with these exercises from Men’s Health.

Playing as a Workout

 

Balance time spent on sedentary play, like reading books and playing with toys, with play that requires physical activity, like tag, hide and seek, and hopscotch.

Make Time for Active Play

 

Set aside daily time for active movement together, maybe it’s swimming at the pool in the summer, walking the dog, or playing catch.

Daily Time for Movement

 

Instead of going to the movies, pick family activities that get you moving, like bowling, mini golf, or laser tag.

Get Moving for Family Night

 

Have weekly sports nights where you use a set of exercise cards, play lawn games (like shuffleboard, bags, or badminton), or even get moving with physically active video games.

Competition with the Family

Get Ready for Kindergarten Month

Get Ready for Kindergarten Month

August is Get Ready for Kindergarten Month! The first thing to do to make sure your little one is ready to start school is to check out our Summer Health Checklist.

Summer Health Checklist

 

Double-check which shots your little one needs before they start kindergarten.

Your Children’s Preventive Care and Physicals

 

Make sure they’ve had their annual physical before they start. What happens at their next annual well-child appointment? We can help.

Well-Child Visits – Ages 5 to 10

 

Read books with your child to help them get ready for their first day of school.

Read About Kindergarten

 

Walk your child by the school, play on the playground, and if possible, give them a tour to make them feel more secure.

Tour the School

 

Plan their sleep schedule ahead of time so they’ll be adjusted to their new morning schedule for school.

Adjust Their Sleep Schedule

 

If you can, take a practice bus trip or walk through their morning trip with them so they’re ready on the first day of school to tackle getting there.

Practice the Bus Trip

National Child-Centered Divorce Month

National Child-Centered Divorce Month

July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month. Thinking about your kids if you’re going through a divorce doesn’t mean staying together for their sake. It just means you’re considering their feelings and emotions while making choices.

Considering Your Kids During Divorce

 

If you’re getting a divorce, take the time to sit down together with your kids and explain the decision whenever possible. Presenting a unified front, even at this difficult time, is important for your family.

Discussing the Decision as a Family

 

Put yourself in your children’s shoes and validate their feelings while handling a divorce. They have a right to have feelings about the situation and to express them.

Safely Expressing Feelings During Divorce

 

Remind your kids that they’re not at fault or a cause of the divorce, and reassure them at each step that mom and dad will always be their parents. 

Don’t ask them to take sides or put them in the middle of arguments. Make sure they feel comfortable loving both of you and talking about it.

Avoiding Putting Your Kids in the Middle

 

Focus on change and not blame. Help them understand the changes that are coming to all of your lives and how you’ll work through it together. 

Focusing on Change as a Positive

 

Be confident and consistent when discussing the divorce with them. You should both decide on how you’ll handle issues with the kids upfront and be ready to communicate with them about these issues consistently.

Consistency During Divorce

Kids and Energy to Burn

Long View: Energy to Burn

I tried to talk my parents into buying me a paddle boat when I was 11. Oh yes, I did.

We used to spend the summer on a little island at the south end of Mobile Bay in Alabama. The first thing my younger brother and I wanted to do when we got there was to go to the concession stand and rent paddle boats. For those of you who are not familiar, they are kind of like riding a bike but on the water, seriously.

The rental was kind of expensive as I remember, but the folks let us ride as many times as we wanted. My idea of buying one to save on the rental just didn’t float with Mom and Dad.

The following year, we discovered the paddle boat concession had been wiped out by a hurricane. We were inconsolable until our Dad presented us with 4 new Frisbees. We got the neighbor kids out on the beach and played for what seemed like hours. When the inevitable boredom set in, we often walked to historic Fort Gaines on the far eastern end of the island. There were lots of walls to climb and ramparts to scramble up. It was like a huge jungle gym. The fort had real cannons too.  Signs discouraged people from climbing on them, but we did it just the same.

After supper, the family often walked to the western end of the island, which was quite a jaunt for our little legs, especially in the sand. By the time we got back to the house, we were ready for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

It took me a while to realize that my parents were geniuses. They knew how to engage their 2 somewhat hyperactive boys and make sure we burned off enough energy to settle down in the evening. Sometimes we volunteered to go to bed early, which gave the folks a much-deserved rest.

When I talk to people who are older and wiser than me, I keep in mind they probably have insights and wisdom far beyond my own. Giving an older friend or family member a chance to share their insights is our chance to learn from someone else’s experience.  My parents might not have been geniuses, but they were most certainly practical and insightful when it came to raising kids.

I recently checked out the cost of a paddle boat, with an awning of course. It was affordable. However, I realized what a wildly impractical purchase it would be, so I bought a Frisbee instead. Lesson learned.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. He is known for his inability to parallel park, and if you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, (and he paints!)

Celebrate July!

Covered Bridge: Many Things to Celebrate

July, the month we realize Mother Nature has ever so graciously provided us with … heat!

When I think back as a child and remember what the month of July meant to me, the following things come to mind: having to go back to school in a month, melted popsicles, bike rides, swimming, tent camping trips, sunburns, and losing track of time due to the long days of sunshine.

When I think of July as an adult, I think of red, white, and blue, our armed forces, and this great nation!  Humidity is almost, if not already, at a yearly high. OK, most people don’t look forward to the humidity. I get it, but I will take it over the rain and snow pretty much any day. The sound of fireworks almost all month long and the delightful smells of hamburgers and hotdogs from our grill or from somewhere else in our neighborhood are basically daily rituals.

One thing I do differently from a child to an adult? I camp in an RV. Some call it “glamping,” but I call it convenience on wheels.

However, those aren’t the only things to look forward to in July. I look forward to celebrating events within our community that make summer that much more exciting.

This year, Reid Foundation will celebrate the 10th Annual ReidRide on July 21! No matter your fitness level, according to Prevention Magazine, “Cycling puts very little impact on your joints, so it’s kind to your body.” That sounds like a great reason to me to get out there and safely give it a try!

If you are not familiar with the ReidRide, your contribution provides shoes to children in need in our local community. Every $20 donated will buy a pair of shoes. Information on registering for the event and other ways to contribute can be found at ReidRide.org.

In other celebratory news, this year is Reid’s 113th birthday on July 27! Reid will celebrate with some special activities, so be on the lookout for those details!

Maybe, like me, you simply enjoy this month for all it represents, or maybe you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or another day of importance this month. No matter what it is, I hope this month brings you much happiness!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.