Starting a new school year can be an exciting time, but also an anxious one for many kids. With the challenges of the pandemic disruptions during the last academic year, not to mention a new classroom and teacher to get used to, and in some cases even a new school to navigate around, this year may feel even more overwhelming than usual after a long summer break. Even though some back to school anxiety is normal, implementing a few small tips can really help ease your child’s stress.
Talk Through Any Worries
One of the best ways to address your child’s back to school stress and anxiety is to encourage them to talk to you about what’s troubling them or just their thoughts about the upcoming term. Take the time to really listen to them without judgement and be sure to validate how they’re feeling. Just letting out their worries and feeling supported will do them the world of good.
Get Back Into Normal Routines Early
When there’s just over a week before the start of school, it’s an excellent idea to get your child back into the rhythm of their general routine. Whether this is an early wake up, breakfast and getting themselves ready, regular eating schedules, or getting back into a normal sleep pattern- just getting used to the school routine again will be sure to help ease anxiety levels.
Practice The School Commute
It’s a great idea to take time before the new academic year begins to do a practice run of the school commute with your child. Often this can be one of the biggest worries for kids at the start of a school year, especially if their way of getting there has changed or they’ve started a new school. We recommend travelling the route together, whether that means walking, driving or getting a bus and going all the way to the drop off point if you can. It’s also an excellent idea to decide where your child will go after school to help eliminate any confusion during the first few weeks. Whether this is giving them a key to let themselves in at home, going to a neighbour’s house or an after-school club, it’s important to have a clear plan in place. Even though this seems like a simple tip, it’s going to be a huge stress relief for an anxious child.
It’s important to try and create a positive atmosphere at home by talking cheerfully about the new school year and all the exciting things about going back to school. Just by reminding them about what makes school great will be helpful in replacing any anxiety your kids are feeling with excitement. Your kids will also be much more likely to have a positive attitude about going back to school if you make a conscious effort to reinforce this at home.
Assure Them They Aren't Alone
Remind your kids they're not the only ones who may be nervous about starting school again. Other children are likely to be just as anxious as they are about the first day of school and teachers will always take extra time for the first few weeks making sure everyone feels comfortable and settled in.
Reconnect With Their Friends
If your child is feeling stressed about reconnecting with friends they haven't seen in months, plan for them to meet up or encourage your child to talk to them on the phone or over text. Helping them reconnect with old friends or strengthen bonds with new ones not only reduces anxiety and stress but also can help your child start the school year off on the right foot.
If your child's anxiety or stress lasts longer than two weeks or starts to interfere with their daily life, always contact your local GP.