The Insider’s Guide to Easing Back-to-School Anxiety
Summer is ending, and we’re all dreading what’s coming next: the transition from carefree days to trying to stick to an actual routine when the kids go back to school.
Whether it’s reluctance to go back to a classroom or a first-timer’s jitters with separating from Mom and Dad and starting big kids’ school, here are some tips to help make the transition just a bit easier for both parents and kids.
Talk about expectations. Bedtime is a particularly optimal time to talk about what going back to school entails, but you could start this conversation anytime your child feels engaged. Talk about new faces they’ll meet, the teachers they’re going to have, and try to get them excited about the new things they’ll learn. If you sense some anxiety from your child, acknowledge their feelings and reassure them with your own first-day-of-school stories.
Go shopping! Shopping for new school clothes helps get your child in the mood and the mindset that school is starting soon, but it doesn’t have to burn a huge hole in your pocket. H&M’s back-to-school sale gives you trendy options without breaking the bank, for example. Other stores like Target, Old Navy, and Carter’s have store-wide discounts on anything from shoes to school supplies, so it’s just a matter of shopping around for the best deals out there.
Involving the kids in choosing their wardrobe is another great way to get them excited about going back to school. Get a few reusable but statement pieces like a blazer or vest that could punch up an otherwise casual look.
Work together on their schedule. Even for grownups, it’s hard to get back into the groove of things, so we need to set our kids up for success. You know your kids best, but ideally, you want them getting used to the new routine at least a couple of weeks before school starts.
Start them getting to bed at a set time and setting the alarm, getting up to the alarm, and getting ready as though they’re going to school. This means getting out of bed, doing their morning routine in the bathroom, putting clothes on, and eating breakfast. The sooner they get used to the pattern, the easier their transition to a more regimented schedule.
Schedule play dates with future classmates. If you have a preschooler or a younger child starting school, this is a great way to take away some of their jitters. Organize weekend meetups with the other kids’ parents so the kids can get to know each other. According to a Hopkin’s Medicine article, children adjust better in school when they see familiar faces in the classroom.
Reward them. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be a mid-week ice cream treat at home or that new binder they just had to have. It could be a bonus playground trip, or their favorite dessert at dinner. Celebrate the fact that they’ve overcome their anxiety and make sure you encourage them to talk about their days at school. The best thing you can do is to listen to your children and reassure them if something’s worrying them about school and to let them know that you’re still there for them even though you’re apart during the day.
If you have your own tips to share to ensure a no-tears goodbye on your child’s first day of school, we’d love to read about them in the comments below!