Feeling anxious about the upcoming school year? Part 1
“♪ ♫ It’s the most wonderful time of the year ♫ ♪” – as that commercial jingle goes! Whether your child is starting school for the first time or returning after a summer break, the start of the school year brings a great deal of excitement, together with some anxiety and stress. A little planning and preparation can ease much of the uncertainty and help to make the first day an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Maybe this year is your first foray into pre-school or kindergarten… While it’s a proud moment and a real milestone, you may be anxious about how he or she may cope, and perhaps subconsciously afraid that this means you are losing your baby. Likewise, your child may be nervous now, and may suffer from separation anxiety once school begins. Even children who are returning to school after the summer break may feel cautious or nervous about a new year, and may need some extra support. All of these emotions are completely normal, and the first few days can be extra stressful as you and your child settle into new routines. It may take a while before everyone can really relax. Here are a few ideas to help all of you to get into the swing of things:
- If your child is feeling anxious about leaving you, acknowledge his/her feelings. Reassure your child by reminding them of their personal strengths in order to help them to feel more positive about going off to school. Let your child know that you have trust in the teacher and the school. Suggest what they can do if they are upset (i.e., tell the teacher, call at lunchtime, etc.) If you are concerned about your child’s level of anxiety, discuss solutions with the child’s teacher—many are experts in dealing with separation.
- Explain that there will always be someone around to help if the child is unsure where to go or what to do. Tell your child that it isn’t babyish to ask for help—it’s the smart thing to do.
- Take your child to visit the school and, if possible, the new teacher and classroom. Show your child where to hang his or her jacket. Visit the washroom. Check out where they eat lunch. Walk through the schoolyard and talk about recess.
- If possible, introduce your child to one or more of the other children who will be starting at the school. Invite them over to play, and get to know their parents. You’ll both appreciate having these familiar faces!
- If you can, walk your child to school for at least the first few days or weeks, until your child feels secure. Don’t hang around if your child begins to cry. Children usually settle down fast once their parents are out of sight. If it’s possible and the school is willing, you could consider spending some time in the class for the first day.
- Ensure that there is a safe to and from school routine in place for your child – this includes bus and walking plans. Review street-proofing tips with your child before school starts. If your child is going to walk to and from school without a caregiver, remind him or her to always walk with a buddy.
- Treat the return to school as a positive and exciting experience. Help your child to organize the bedroom to make it easy to find school clothes or do homework.
- Make a special day out of buying school supplies and clothes. Have lunch out in the middle of your day and use the time to talk about school fears and ambitions.
Visit our blog again for Part 2 of this article.
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Tags: Anxiety, children, parent, school