A new school year brings new classes, schedules, and after-school activities full of excitement. But for some, a new year means a new set of nerves and anxiety. If you’ve noticed your child is avoiding school supply shopping or hasn’t checked to see what friends are in their classes, they may be nervous for the year to start. Many kids wonder, “Who will my new teacher be?” “What if I don’t remember anything from last year?” “Do my friends have the same lunch I do?”
As a parent, it’s normal to want to protect your child from all the things they think are scary. The good news is, these fears are completely normal, and they can be overcome. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to reduce the “Back to School” nerves.
I recommend sitting down with your child a couple nights this month and talk about what school will be like. If your daughter is going into middle school, let her know how block scheduling works. If your son is going into 3rd grade, talk to him about the subjects he may be learning. For high schoolers, talk to them about parking at school on time and getting to their locker. Having open discussions allows your children to feel more comfortable about what may be keeping them from being excited. Remind them that you too were a student once and their fears are normal!
Take a day and practice waking up early, getting dressed, and waiting for the bus stop! It may seem silly, but when the first day of school comes around, your child will be less nervous because they will have already done it once before. Most schools have open houses in the summer, so you can also visit the classroom, playground, or cafeteria. For middle and high schoolers, take locker day to walk around the school and find the classrooms. Work on getting their locker combination memorized and that they can actually open their locker! Do as many practice runs as it takes to get your child comfortable.
Pack the backpacks up the night before and place them next to the door. Make lunch (stay away from sugary snacks – research shows sugary snacks increase anxiety) and keep it fresh in the refrigerator. Set out a new “first day of school” outfit and make sure your child is getting as much sleep as possible before the first day.
For some students, dragging out a goodbye brings more anxiety than necessary. You don’t have to show tough love, but try to keep the tears in until you are out of their sight. Tell them how excited they’ll be when they come home to tell you how great their first day was!
You can find more tips on back to school on our blog post! What kind of tips do you do with your kids to ease “First Day of School” nerves?