Parents aren't the only ones struggling with nervous and excited feelings, either. When children start school for the first time, or change schools later on, fear of the unknown is a main concern. Parents are tasked with easing those concerns without projecting their own worries onto already anxious young students.
Read on to learn ways to help your kids ease school anxiety and start the year off with a smile.
Ask Questions1 of 10
First of all, if your child seems anxious, ask questions without hinting at your own concerns. For example, don't ask, "Are you worried about school?" A better way to phrase the question would be, "How are you feeling about school?" Younger kids may want to draw pictures to answer the question. This exchange can help you understand the best approach for your child.
Read Together2 of 10
For the youngest back-to-schoolers, there are many books about starting kindergarten. For anxious older children, look for books that feature main characters who are going through similar experiences. If your family has recently moved, or for students starting middle school or high school, ask your local librarian for both fiction and nonfiction books on the topic. Check out two copies so that you and your child can read and discuss.
Play School3 of 10
For kids going into kindergarten, playing school is an excellent way to help them understand what their days will look and feel like in a new environment. If there are older children in the house, enlist them to play along. Role play from walking into the building on the first morning through lining up quietly as a class, circle time, snack time and free play.
Go Back-to-School Shopping4 of 10
Picking out a new backpack and lunchbox will make your child excited about school, and new clothes and shoes make everyone feel better. When you get back home, help your child plan out what to wear each day of the first week of school. Knowing they'll be able to wear their new and all-time favorite outfits can help them feel confident.
Make A Lunch Menu5 of 10
It's also a great idea to enlist your child's help in planning a menu of lunches for the first week of school. Choosing sandwich recipes and picking out favorite foods to pack in a new lunchbox will give them something to look forward to during the day. Make sure and include a trade-able item, as well, to encourage making new friends in the cafeteria.
Watch a Movie6 of 10
As the first day approaches, family movie nights are a fun activity to ease back-to-school anxiety. You may have favorites from your own childhood, or look for newer releases with positive, upbeat school-related stories. As the credits roll, discuss the movies together.
Break Out the Photo Album7 of 10
Sharing your own school pictures and year books is a special way to connect with your kids this time of year. Whether serious, cute, silly or awkward--or all of the above--they'll appreciate the visual reminders that you've been where they're going, and made it through just fine.
Talk to the Teacher8 of 10
If possible, a quick visit with your child's new teacher could also help set his or her mind at ease. Take the opportunity to ask a few questions, and maybe even get an idea of what the class will be learning in the first few weeks of school. This might also be a good opportunity to let the teacher know, privately, that your child is experiencing some back-to-school anxiety.
Go on a Scouting Mission9 of 10
Finally, even if you can't swing a personal visit with the teacher, try to visit your child's new classroom or school before the first day. Getting a look at where they'll be spending their time can go a long way toward easing first day jitters. Visiting before school starts will also provide that first look in a calm, quiet atmosphere. To complete the outing, playing on the school playground is a great way to get kids excited about school.