The start of the school year is an exciting time for both children and parents, but it can be anxiety-inducing too. Whether starting at a new school or in a new class, kids have a lot of uncertainties to worry about when going back to school, and it’s up to parents to help children deal with these concerns and find ways to feel prepared as the first day of school approaches.
If your children experience back to school anxiety, try these ideas to help address those feelings and prevent further unease so your family can have a worry-free first day of school and a successful year!
Tip #1: Encourage communication.
Invite your children to discuss their feelings about going back to school and listen carefully for their specific concerns. Ask what they are excited or worried about and what they would like to do the same this year and what they would like to improve. Brainstorm ideas together for how to solve problems that they are nervous about. This can calm a worried child and set a pattern for talking about school issues throughout the year.
Tip #2: Use favorite characters your child can relate to.
Lots of beloved children’s books and TV series have a story or episode about a character who is anxious about school. Borrow books and DVDs from the library or purchase one as a special gift to your child before the school year starts. These stories can help children feel they are not alone in their worries and that their feelings are natural. Reading a book together or watching a show is a great way to spend some one-on-one time with your children and start a conversation about how they are feeling in this situation.
Tip #3: Show a positive attitude.
It’s easy to get stressed out yourself with all of the back to school tasks, but make an effort to express excitement to your family about the new school year. Speak positively and encouragingly about going back to school and all the great things your children will get to do. Children naturally pick up on parents’ feelings, so if you’re letting anything about school get you down, they’re sure to feel it too and you will see it in their own attitude.
Tip #4: Prepare together.
Help children get excited for a new school year by preparing together. Let your child pick out their school supplies, choose their first day of school outfit, and make their lunch. Discuss your family’s school year routine ahead of time and decide together what your family can do to make it a great year so everyone is on the same page before school starts.
Tip #5: Take your children to visit the school.
Take advantage of any back to school meetings and tours your children’s schools offer. Take your children to meet their new teachers and to see the building so they can get familiar with the school environment. Help your children ask about what they will learn and do at school. If your family doesn’t have this opportunity before school starts, take your children on a walk around the school to become familiar with the building and grounds.
Tip #6: Practice makes perfect.
To prepare for a great first day of school, start your family’s school year routine a week before school starts. Practice getting up and ready in time to leave for school each morning. Organize school supplies and create a schedule together of after-school activities. Use wind down activities like reading or listening to music at night to help everyone go to sleep on time. By the time school starts, your family’s routine will be familiar and it will be one less difference your children has to navigate.
Tip #7: Offer reassurance.
Finally, let your children know everyone feels a little apprehension in new situations and it’s okay to have worries, but that you are there to help sort through their feelings and make a plan together so their back to school transition goes smoothly. By validating your children’s feelings and having a plan of action, your children can go back to school confident and ready for an exciting new year!
If reading difficulties keep your children from enjoying school, Read Smart can help. We use comprehensive assessments and customized strategies to help Tulsa children gain the reading skills and confidence they need to succeed in school. Contact us today for a free reading evaluation!