The transition from the end of summer to return to school can be a stressful time for both children and parents. The start of the new school year is exciting, but it also prompts stress and anxiety. Many children display some difficulty separating from parents to attend school, and some shyness or worry about schedules, schoolwork, or friends is natural.
With the change, some anxiety is a normal response, but parents can empower and encourage their children as they return to school.
Here are 7 tips to empower your child and help them cope with back-to-school anxiety.
1. Develop A Routine
A week or two before school starts for the year, begin preparing children for the upcoming transition with back to school year routines.
Routines should include both the morning and the evening. Encourage children to wake up at a regular time, eat breakfast, and help them get ready for the day. At night, you can take time to talk about the next day with your child, pick out clothes to wear, pack lunch together, and pray over the next day.
A PBS article explains this strategy: “The best way to gain mastery over worries is to practice taking control of worrisome situations.” A consistent routine allows children to practice and experience situations that are causing anxiety.
- Empower & Encourage
Anxiety has a way of making children and adults feel like they have no control. Explaining to your kids how anxiety works will demystify what they’re going through, remove some of the fear, and restore their feelings of control. It’s powerful.
Empowerment teaches our anxious children that we see and hear their fear and that we are here to work through it together.
- Be Aware Of Your Attitudes
For parents, the start of the year can be anxiety-inducing, too. The pressure’s on you to reinstate routines after the summer break and arrange for new activities and schedules.
Take time to address your feelings and thoughts on going back to school, to make sure you’re not passing on stress to your kids. Taking a break will enable you to manage your stress, as well as your child’s.
- Listen to Worries
When kids express worries and fears about going back to school, like a new teacher, increases in homework, a friend crisis, listen seriously.
Is your first response to say, “Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!” Rather than dismiss fears, listen to them, and acknowledge your child’s feelings, which will make them feel more secure.
Validate the child’s specific worries by acknowledging it. Then, just like any new activity, encourage them that starting school can be hard but soon becomes easy and fun.
- Plan A Visit
Visit the school before the new school year starts with your child. During your visit, you can rehearse the morning drop-off and afternoon pick up. After rehearsing, your child can spend time playing on the playground or inside their new classroom if the building is open. Have your student practice walking into class while you wait outside or down the hall.
- Reconnect With Classmates
Arrange playdates with one or more school friends before classes start. Research shows that a familiar friend’s presence during school transitions can improve children’s adjustment socially, emotionally, and academically.
- Seek Help
Finally, if your transition is feeling difficult, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Alert your student’s teacher and any other school staff that your child may see in the morning. Ask for suggestions, and ask for help.
The community of staff and teachers at Hillsdale Christian Academy are meeting about and praying for each child that’s enrolled, and they are just an email or phone call away.