A child having a little anxiety about going back to school is completely normal. Children have a lot of new things to prepare for: teachers, classmates, lessons and schoolwork. It’s easy to get caught up in your own stress around the start of a new school year, so we’ve come up with a few ways to ease the back-to-school stress for your young one.
It’s no secret that children pick up on their parents’ attitudes and feelings. By maintaining a positive outlook for yourself, your child will feel more at ease taking those first few steps into the classroom. Don’t dismiss your child’s feelings; instead, normalize them to let them know that everyone can feel nervous the first couple of days. Creating a positive expectation about the school year on the first day sets a precedent for the weeks and months to follow.
Take Away the Unknowns
Fear of the unknown could be one reason your child is having anxiety about the new school year. By eliminating these unknowns a few weeks before school starts, you can help ease their anxiety. If your child is going to a new school or going back to the same one, explore the school with your child. Visit their classroom, the cafeteria, the library, the nurse’s office and the playground. If your kid is taking the bus, walk with them to the bus stop to show how the routine will work. This will help take away the mystery on the first day, and they will feel more comfortable marching in with their head held high.
Establishing a daily routine for children to follow before the school year starts can help ease everyone into the new adjustment. Keeping a checklist to help get your kid organized and stay on schedule can help ease anxiety from rushing around in the morning. Not only will it save you frustration, but your child also will feel in charge and responsible for getting ready. Have an afternoon routine for snacks, homework and extracurricular activities. When nighttime rolls around, keep in mind children between the ages of 5 and 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. As children get older, this does not work as well since they are able to handle being up later. For the first week or two of school, keep the afternoons light, giving kids a chance to decompress from all the excitement of a new school year.
Establish Fun Traditions
If you’re excited for school, your child will follow suit. Ring in the new school year by establishing a fun tradition that they can look forward to and cherish year after year. You can have a special meal, go for a nature walk, create a pillow fort or roast marshmallows in the backyard. During this time, have a family discussion about what they are excited about for the upcoming year, as well as what they are nervous about. Being present and spending time with your children before the school year helps with the transition. Your presence is a comfort and allows them to feel open to share any concerns they may have.
Know the Rules
Knowing the rules will help both you and your child know what is expected behavior. Understand what happens if your child is late. Are they allowed to have electronic devices or cell phones on the school grounds? What is the dress code? As a parent, it’s understood that you know the rules and how to make sure they are followed. Attend parent meetings and be attentive to not only the rules, but also why they are in place at the school.
Unschedule the Kids
Having a schedule can help kids get into the back-to-school routine. But remember that there needs to be some unscheduled time as well. Allowing your child to have a “free day” during the week after school to relax and play indoors or outdoors is just as important as having extracurricular activities and time set aside for homework. Letting them choose what they want to do with their free time gives them a sense of responsibility they can benefit from in the years to come.
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