Back to school can be an exciting time, but it’s common for children to be a bit anxious about it, too. After all, they will have new teachers, new routines, etc. They may be worried about a lot of unknowns … missing the bus, liking their new teacher, being able to perform at the new grade level, the quantity of homework, and, of course, relationships with friends and peers. All children can benefit from feeling prepared, and parents can play a big role in helping ease back to school fears.
8 Tips to Help Ease Kids’ Back to School Concerns
Listen to worries and problem solve.
Children may ask a lot of questions. Listen, try to answer their questions accurately and help them problem solve. Empty reassurances such as, “It will be fine!” can make some children feel even more anxious
Example: If your child is worried about remembering a new locker combination, practice on a combination lock at home the week before school starts.
Attend school open house together.
Many schools host open houses in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Does your school have one? Find out if they do and plan to attend.
Make back-to-school shopping fun.
Plan a fun back to school shopping trip together. Let children pick out some of their own supplies. It can help them feel more prepared for heading back to school.
Start school routines at least a week before school starts.
Wake up and eat breakfast closer to the usual school morning routine. Rolling back bed time a few weeks before school starts can help your child feel rested and ready to cope with new routines and challenges.
Involve your child in decisions when possible.
Will they ride the bus, walk or be driven the first few weeks of school? What does your child prefer? Hot lunch or cold? Allowing your child to help make some decisions can help them feel like they have more control over a new, and sometimes stressful, situation.
Discuss school rules and routines.
What are the rules and routines that your child will need to know for back to school? Reviewing rules and routines can help with a solid start and can help set the tone for the school year.
Seeing old friends, making new friends, even wearing a favorite outfit are all things that children can be excited about! Helping to remind your child to think about the positive aspects of returning to school can help them to overcome some of their worries.
Model positive coping skills by managing your own stress.
Children watch their parents. Manage your own emotions about back to school. If you appear overly anxious about it, your child will pick up on that and it could contribute to their own anxiety about going to school. Be positive! Managing your own stress about back to school can help your child feel more confident about the process.
Don’t forget to reinforce the positive by letting your child know how proud you are of them and the good choices they make as they head back to school this year.