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 couple ways to help ease the back to school stress for your young one.
It’s no secret that children pick up on their parent’s attitude 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 but instead normalize them to let them know that everyone can feel nervous the first couple of days. Setting 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, library, nurses office and 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. Keep a checklist to help get your kid organized and stay on schedule which can help ease anxiety from rushing around in the morning. Not only will it save you frustration, your child 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. 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 them 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 your child and you 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 are knowledgeable of the rules and how to make sure they are followed. Attend the parent meetings and be attentive to not only the rules but why they are in place at the school.
Unschedule the Kids
Again, having a schedule for kids can help them 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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