The idea of going back to school can be exciting for families, especially for kids. The start of a new school year brings many positives, like reuniting with old friends and making new ones, learning new things, and having fun. However, it can also be a source of anxiety and stress for many. This is perfectly normal. Many children may feel anxious about the thought of returning to school because they’ve just had a long summer break and are preparing to start school for the first time. Parents may also find this season to be one that causes us to lose sleep and have less time for rest. If you find yourself caught in the same dilemma and are dreading the back-to-school stress, don’t worry. With the right attitude, adequate preparation, and some useful tips, back-to-school season doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult for you and your little one. Here’s a list of tips you might find handy:
Help your child feel more comfortable about returning to school
One of the leading causes of anxiety about going back to school is when children don’t know what to expect about the new school year. You can help your child feel more comfortable by discussing what they can expect ahead of time. Talk to your child about what his or her day will look like when school starts. This is especially important for kids who are going to school for the first time.
As you and your child discuss what he or she can expect at the start of the new school year, talk about the type of routines will accompany a school day. Discuss details regarding what going to bed and waking up each day will look like, what time he or she will have breakfast and get dressed, and so on. It can also help to alleviate anxiety if you’re able to bring your child to see the school before the first day, so he or she can get a better sense of the new environment. Even if your child is returning to the same school building this year, it can still be beneficial to visit in order to help him or her feel reconnected and familiar with the environment.
Another effective trick for easing back to school stress is to remind young kids about the things that make school fun and exciting. Besides learning new things, you can discuss the fun activities they will do at school this year. Ask children if they’re excited to see their old classmates and meet new ones. Talk about the games and activities they look forward to doing again, and what types of things they’ve missed about school during vacation.
Establish routines before the school begins
Part of going to school is learning how to stick to a daily schedule and routine. To help minimize “culture-shocked” upon returning to school, it can help to start getting back into the school year routine for a few days before school starts. Have children practice their bedtime routine as they prepare for the first day. If your child needs to be in bed by 9:00pm on a school night, have your child get into the habit of following a 9:00pm bedtime routine before the school year begins. Do the same thing with meal times, playtime, and other activities during the day.
Remind your child that you’re a team
Because back-to-school stress is something that both parents and kids often experience, it’s important for kids to feel that they aren’t alone. Let your child know that you’re also feeling anxious. Additionally, as you acknowledge your child’s anxiety and worry, you can also try to redirect this into something more positive by letting your child know you’re confident that he or she will be in good hands. Ask your child about the things that may be bringing up feelings of worry, and talk about how you will be working on facing and resolving these things together.
Be present consistently
Whether or not it’s your child’s first time attending school, the transition back to school can be a challenging time for kids. The best thing parents can do to help make the transition easier is to be consistently present for their little ones. Carve out time for your child as soon as he or she gets home if you can, so you can discuss how the day went. Ask children about the things they learned as well as the activities they did during the day. Encourage your child to open up and share what’s on his or her mind, especially if anything is troubling.
Don’t forget about yourself
It’s not easy to be a parent, especially when it’s time for your child to attend school. This is why it’s imperative that you don’t forget to take good care of yourself too. Make it a priority to get adequate rest and sleep whenever possible. Prioritize your own mental and physical health and well-being. Being a good parent doesn’t mean putting yourself last. The healthier you are and the better you feel, the easier it will be to balance the demands of work and home.
It’s the start of the school year once again, and back-to-school stress can loom over parents and children alike. Don’t let it get the better of what can be a fun and exciting time by following these helpful pieces of advice!
For more helpful parenting resources, or if you’re looking for a preschool that offers a warm and friendly environment for your little one, please visit Imagine Nation Learning Center.