Does your child have a case of Back To School Jitters? Our education writer has 5 great tips for helping them feel less anxious about the new school year.
By the end of August, “Back to School” is in full swing, and for many families that means a lot of shopping for everything from clothes to school supplies. It can be very exciting to pick out a new backpack and outfit for the first day, but many kids and parents also feel a sense of anxiety about starting a new year. With a new teacher and a different set of friends, September can be a fresh start in so many ways, but it also means new routines and a more demanding course load for our kids. So how can parents make the transition into the new school year a smooth one?
1.) Understand that your child may be nervous.
One way to help ease the stress of the first day of school is to understand the feelings of angst your child may be experiencing. Try to remember what it was like the night before school, when you worried about everything from who you would be seated next to, to how much homework your new teacher would give.
There is a lot at stake for your kids. A year can seem like an eternity to a child, and if it starts off on the wrong foot, it can spell disaster in the eyes of your youngster. Talk to your kids about how they may be feeling. Don’t assume that because your child has loved school in the past, that she is ok with starting in September. Share stories about how you felt as a child before school. Let him know that his feelings are ok and that the other kids in class feel the same way. Even the teachers have a hard time sleeping the night before the first day.
2.) Start practicing your “school schedule” now.
Another way to get your kids ready for the start of school is to start implementing your school year routine now. About two weeks before the first day, I get my kids back into our school routine. This means earlier bed times and more structured wake ups.
Although it’s fun to cherish those last few late nights of summer, getting the kids into bed early helps them settle back into that familiar bedtime routine. The last thing I want the night before school is children who can’t settle themselves down because they are just not tired. That goes for my morning routine too, which is why I start practicing a few weeks ahead of time. Making their first day as stress free as possible will help make the transition go much more smoothly.
3.) Be a great role model.
One of the most important ways that you can help your child during this time of year is to be a great role model. Maybe you’re feeling disappointed about the class your child was placed into and you might not have heard the best things about the teacher. If you say negative things about that teacher in front of your child, it can put a lot of unnecessary stress on him.
Rest assured that a lot of time goes into finding the proper placement for your child. Try not to listen to the gossip at the playground about the teachers in your child’s school. As a teacher, I have seen so many parents pull strings to get children into or out of certain classes only to find that the sought out teacher was not a great match for their child. Every child is different and just because your friend had a negative experience with a teacher, doesn’t mean you will too. If your child hears you speaking enthusiastically about the new teacher, it will help foster a great relationship for the new school year. After all, how can your child give a teacher a fair chance if they know that mom and dad don’t like her?
4.) Play dates can help foster a sense of belonging with new classmates.
One of the major stressors for children is finding friends in their new classes. Your child may be feeling nervous because none of her friends are going to be in the same class.
To help ease the loneliness, set up a few play dates during the summer with children entering the new class. She may be surprised to learn that there is someone else feeling just as lonely and she’ll be even happier to see a familiar face once school starts. It is just as important to reassure your child that his friends from the previous year will still be around and they will be able to get together at recess and after school.
5.) Listen to your kids.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your child at this time of year. It can be very exciting, but also very emotional for them. If you stay in tuned with how your kids are feeling, their first day is sure to go smoothly.
Going “Back to School” doesn’t have to be chaotic. With these simple tips, your family will be well rested and ready to start the new school year on the right foot. Do you have any “Back to School” tips that you use in your home? We would love to hear about them. Please share them with us in the comments section below and have a happy school year!
Thanks for reading,