Tips for Back to School Anxiety
Going back to school can be stressful and intimidating. This is especially true when, for example, a child is entering a new grade which involves them to switch schools. Adjusting to this transition, or even just the transition between summer to fall, can be tough. Students (and teachers) may not be happy about summer ending and school starting, but it should not be an anxiety inducing event.
In this week’s blog, we will cover ways to reduce any back to school anxiety and any stress that you or your child may have:
#1. Start your morning school routine early
If you or your child have to get up rather early for school, consider starting the early mornings, early. Take the week or two before school actually begins and start implementing your school morning habits. This will help because when the times comes to actually begin school, the busy early mornings will not be such a shock.
#2. Prepare your child early
This is an important tip, especially if this is your child’s first year in full time school. Starting to talk to them about school and getting them excited to go is one of the best ways to desensitize them to the idea of going. Instead of surprising them when the time comes to leave them for the day. Be sure that your child knows that they are only going for the day and that you will be back shortly to get them. Early communication is key to reducing a child’s anxiety.
#3. Get adequate rest days leading up to the first day
Chronic fatigue is a big culprit for causing anxiety. Getting enough sleep, approximately 6-8 hours for adults and 8-12 hours for kids, is essential for not only reducing anxiety but also for improving focus in the classroom setting. Getting the proper sleep for your body is essential for reducing stress and anxiety.
#4. Familiarize your child with the school or classroom
A big anxiety trigger for some children is the lack of familiarity with their surroundings. If your child is entering a new school or even just a new classroom, consider trying to enter the school early and show them around. Just by creating a sense of familiarity can help to reduce any first day of school anxiety.
#5. Have a balanced breakfast
It is no secret that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Starting your day off with a whole food-based breakfast is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not only properly fueling your body but also improving focus, reducing stress, and reducing anxiety. Failing to start your day off with a proper meal can lead to opposite effects such as increased anxiety and reduced focus. If your child is reluctant to eat breakfast in the morning try getting them involved by cutting up fruit into special shapes or make their favorite meal.
#6. Get the right supplies
Another way to help reduce a child’s anxiety going back to school is by providing them with less intimidating supplies. It can appear overwhelming when teachers require 4-5 notebooks for each subject or thick 3 inch binders. Therefore creating personalized school supplies can help reduce any anxiety that a child may have surrounding the upcoming year. This may include purchasing notebooks with fun characters on the front or even a backpack that is colored their favorite color. Whatever the case may be, having certain supplies that resonate with the child can help them feel more comfortable and even confident entering school this year.
#7. Schedule playdates and fun after school activities
I think it is important to have outside activities following school time. It is a little unrealistic to have a child spends hours of the day in a classroom to then come home and complete hours of homework immediately following. This is why having an after school activity or play dates can help to create a healthy boundary between school and after school. By setting up these activities after school, whether it is a sport or just a hang out with friends, you are allowing a child to have some stress-free playtime rather than feeling consumed by any schoolwork that they may have. This is not to say that homework is not important; however, it can be anxiety inducing when given immediately following what could feel like a long day.
The biggest takeaway from this is to help understand what is causing your child’s anxiety. It is normal to feel nervous about new things, but when it leads to stress and anxiety, it is best to talk about it and try different approaches to help alleviate that anxiety. Back to school time does not have to be a negative event if we take the proper approaches to make it seem positive and as anxiety free as possible.