Back to School Blues
Labor Day has passed and September is approaching an end. School has been back in session for a few weeks now and we have another year of learning ahead of us!
Although the beginning of the school year is typically thought of as an exciting time, for some kids the transition of going back to school can be stressful. The pressure for our youngsters to perform well academically combined with the new school week routine can result in our kids experiencing waves of moodiness, anxiety, and grief. As exciting as it can be to start a new chapter with school, it can also be really sad to let go of the freedom that comes with summer. Summer is the time of year where kids typically get a break from academic pressure and class work. When the school year ends up rolling around, this can be a grim reminder for kids that they will soon be assessed for their academic performance and compared against their peers. This pressure to do well in school can make children feel anxious about starting the new year. This is especially true if they have had a tough time with school in the past.
That being said, I want to let you know that we have tools that can help our school goers feel a little more comfortable about starting a new year. Below we have included a list of suggestions that you can help incorporate into your youngsters’ routine to help them feel ready to tackle their back to school blues!
Plan School Outfits the Night Ahead of Time
Looking your best can really help you feel the part when you are feeling a little unsure of yourself. Planning out an outfit ahead of time can ensure that your school goer has plenty of time to pick the perfect outfit and make their best impression on the new school year. This can not only help boost their confidence, but it also saves the time and stress of picking out an outfit in morning.
Make Your New Teacher Something
Teachers are a big part of our kids’ lives. They are the trusted authority figure that kids turn to during the school day when their guardians aren’t around. That being said, it can be intimidating for kids to make connections with teachers when they haven’t really gotten the chance to get to know them yet. One way to break the ice is by making them a little gift to tell them a little more about you. This could include a drawing of your kids favorite place, food, etc., or even an origami sculpture of their favorite animal (there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube!). This can help your kid feel like they are actively making an effort to connect with their teacher, which may help them feel a little more comfortable heading back to class.
Create a Consistent Routine
The school year comes with lots of expectations and responsibilities. Getting ready in the morning, doing homework, and organizing materials can be very overwhelming for kids if they are not involved in a consistent routine. Routine helps kids feel that they can better navigate the fast moving pace of a school day. You can help implement routine by delegating consistent times for important daily tasks, such as waking up, breakfast time, packing lunch, and completing homework at night. Don’t forget to also schedule in some time to unwind after school. Success comes with good rest!
Plan Fun After School Activities
If your youngster is feeling anxious about attending school, one thing that can help them distract from this stress is to plan something fun that they can look forward to when they get home. School can be frustrating for kids because they have little control over their environment and they are asked to complete tasks that they may not necessarily enjoy doing, such as doing math problems, writing stories, or taking tests. By planning a fun after school task, kids get the chance to be rewarded for all the hard work they accomplished during the school day. This also reminds kids that they can still have fun during the school year, even though summer is over. Some fun activities could include hosting a playdate with a school friend, going to a park, or trying a new craft.
Have Conversations About New Environment and Staff
Make sure to check in with your school goer about their feelings regarding the new school year. Starting a new grade is a totally new experience with a different teacher, classmates, and classroom expectations. This is a lot to take in! By taking the time to talk to your kids about their new environment, this can provide them the space to process their thoughts and feelings about it that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do.
Discuss Realistic Expectations for Academic Performance
As we have already discussed, the thought of grades and test taking can be very anxiety provoking for school goers. Many kids feel pressure to perform, especially if they have struggled in school in the past. In order to avoid guilt or shame from grades, have discussions with your kids about realistic expectations for their grades that are attainable for them. This can help kids avoid holding themselves to unreasonable standards and help them feel supported throughout their education. It also may be helpful to have a plan if they ever start to dip below your mutual expectations for their grades. This can let your kid know that it’s not the end of the world if they are having a hard time. Additionally, this also lets them know that they have someone in their corner that loves them and supports them no matter what!
To Learn More or Book an Appointment
For more parenting resources, check out HealthyChildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
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