Some experts say that as many as half of all children experience at least some degree of anxiety surrounding the start of a new school year, particularly if they’re in their first year of formal education or they’re transitioning to a new school.
Few things seem to get children more anxious than at the beginning of the school year as they can be filled with a sense of dread about returning to class. School anxiety can have wide-ranging effects on children, such as difficulty falling asleep at night and concentrating in class, making it essential to address the problem before it gets worse.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to help your child fight these feelings and ensure that he or she has an awesome experience as the new school year starts. So, if your child expresses concern about going back to school or seems apprehensive about the upcoming year, you might try these tips to help them feel more at ease about their return to the classroom.
Here are 6 ways to beat back to school anxiety in your child so that they can concentrate on their studies and enjoy their time at school without having to worry about returning home from an anxiety-filled day of classes.
6 ways to beat back to school anxiety in your child.
Keep the day light-hearted
Even though back-to-school season means new beginnings, brighter days, and a fresh start, it can also mean anxiety for some children. One of your best tools in beating school anxiety is understanding exactly what your child is afraid of. Some children are nervous about meeting new teachers or making friends, while others are worried they won’t know how to do assignments or participate in class.
Get your child to articulate their worries by taking time each day to ask them questions about school, explaining what will happen next, and encouraging them with reassurances that you have complete confidence in their abilities—just like you did when they were toddlers learning how to walk and talk!
Create a comfy environment
Sometimes our stress comes from feeling unprepared or worried about what others might think of us. The best way to combat these emotions is by ensuring your child feels comfortable at home, knows they are loved, and accepts their own strengths and weaknesses.
Make sure your child has everything they need in school; such as a backpack that fits comfortably, enough supplies, and a special toy or picture in their bag. You can even give them an anti-stress kit with items that make them feel safe, comforted, and prepared such as a fuzzy blanket or stress ball.
Spend quality time with your kids before school starts so you know exactly what items will make them feel less anxious about leaving for school in the morning.
Get organized early
If you wait until the first day of school, your child's back-to-school clothes and supplies will most likely be crammed into a jumbled closet. However, if you get organized ahead of time, everyone will have more time to rest. Make back-to-school preparations a fun family activity by involving everyone (because there will be less time for togetherness after school starts).
Organizing your child's routine ahead of time will make them feel more prepared and eager to learn. If you have a busy home, it may be beneficial to designate a space for school supplies so you can create an organized environment.
Spend time together on the first day
Oftentimes, we spend a lot of time planning and preparing for our child's first day of school. We get all excited about new clothes, new shoes, and a new backpack. However, once it's time to go back to school, we’re caught up in our own routines that we forget about how stressful starting a new school year can be for our children.
The best way to prepare your child for school is to spend some one-on-one time with them on their first day of class. By showing up at school with them, you’ll show them that you care about their feelings during these big transitions and you’ll help make sure they feel more comfortable in their learning environment.
Add fun activities
When your child starts worrying about going back to school, it can feel like you’re drowning in a sea of test prep and waiting. It might be tempting to try and make up for lost time with extra workbooks, flashcards, and practice tests, but doing so will only add more stress.
One way to overcome anxiety is by adding fun activities into your child's schedule. This way, you not only keep your child distracted with novel pursuits but also ensure they enjoy themselves while learning new skills.
For example, if you want your child to learn a foreign language, consider enrolling them in some local cultural events (or taking them on a trip overseas). These kinds of hands-on experiences are much more exciting than isolated drills or scripted lessons. You can even tailor these types of educational opportunities around holidays or special occasions.
Seek help if needed
School anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways for children. Some children may appear agitated and unable to concentrate, while others may withdraw from their peers or begin fighting more frequently.
While some cases of school anxiety are minor, others can lead to low self-esteem and a negative self-image. Consider taking your child to a professional therapist who specializes in childhood anxiety to help them get back on track as soon as possible.
It's critical that you don't allow your child to suffer from anxiety for an extended period of time without seeking expert care. If left untreated, it could lead to more serious issues.
If there's one thing that keeps parents informed about what's truly going on in school, it's frequent check-ins about grades/academics, social life, and anything else that appears relevant to your child.