Our experts’ tips on reducing back to school anxiety

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backtoschool_apple_childrenssupportsolutions_socialmediaIt’s that time of year…back to school! For some children and parents, this is a time of excitement. For others, it is a time of worry and anxiety. We’ve asked our experts for their advice on how to reduce this anxiety when it comes to heading back to school.

Lauren Robinson, speech-language pathologist, shares:

  • Preview the routine – summer is often a time of reduced structure. The transition back to a routine can be both challenging and very helpful for our kids. Making a calendar and going over what the day looks like (wake up, eat breakfast, pack back pack, when recess/lunch is at school, when pick up is, snack, homework, dinner, etc.) can help ease fears and help get minds back into school.
  • Vocabulary opportunities – with back to school shopping comes new items and opportunities to learn new words – they need a protractor this year! What is a protractor? What do we use it for? You lost your ruler last year? While we’re getting a new one, what is it used for? A ruler is used to measure, look here are centimeters and if you put them together, what do you get?

Samantha Herberman, behavior consultant, advises:

  • Start talking about the transition back to school to prepare your child early. Talk about who their teacher will be, which classroom they will be in, and potentially even drive by the school or have planned visits to help prepare them for the first day of school.
  • If you have dropped some of your routines over the summer, start picking them up again as school is about to start. E.g., pick out clothes the night before, start to move bedtime to where it needs to be for when school starts, etc.

Samuel Siah, psychologist, also adds:

  • If your child has difficulty transitioning back to school, it’s often helpful to start to introduce their school schedule 1 or 2 weeks ahead of time. Practice putting them to bed at their regular bed time and waking them up at their regular school time. That way then can be more alert for the start of the school year!
  • If your child is expressing sadness about school starting again, it’s often helpful to plan a fun activity at the end of the week for making it through the first week. It could be a fun family activity or a back to school party. You can talk to your child about perhaps involving their school friends who they might not have seen for a while.  That way your child will have something to look forward to, even though they have to go back to school!

And last but not least, one of our favourite parenting authors, Ann Douglas has shared her tips as well:

  • Check in with your child. Get a sense of what’s going on inside his head as he thinks ahead to the coming school year. What is he looking forward to? What are his biggest worries/concerns? Is there anything you could be working on or talking through to help ease the transition for him?
  • Recognize what a key role you have to play in supporting your child’s success. Don’t be afraid to share your insights/observations about what will work best for your child at school because you feel you have less expertise than his teachers. Don’t sell yourself short. Recognize that you have a deep knowledge and understanding of your child that can benefit your child’s teachers (and him!) in countless ways. And if you approach these conversations in a spirit of collaboration and problem-solving, you have the potential to make a huge difference for your child.

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