Ease into the routine
Switching from a summer to a school schedule can be stressful to everyone. Avoid back-to-school chaos by developing a routine that includes earlier bedtimes and organizing school stuff like backpacks, school supplies, lunches or lunch money the night before a school day. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school and the rest of the school year go much smoother.
Get to know your child’s school and teachers
For many kids, one of the biggest back-to-school fears is, “Will I like my new teacher?” Take advantage of open house or back-to-school nights to meet the new teacher and tour the school. With an older child, you can ask them to give you a tour of the school to help refresh their memory and yours. Some teachers also welcome phone calls or e-mails as another way to get to know each other before the year begins. Familiarizing your child with the school environment will help ease anxiety of the unknown.
Talk about any anxieties
Going back to school can be stressful for kids of all ages, but asking them about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share what is troubling them. Let your child know that you understand what they are going through and that you will be there to help them. Also ask about what they liked about their previous school or grade and help them look for these same or similar things in their new school or grade to help make the transition a positive one.
Create a plan together
If your child has a concern about going back to school—maybe they have test anxiety, don’t know how they are going to handle all the homework or were bullied— create a plan of action together to tackle the issue. Hold off on giving advice or offering solutions right away to empower your child to find solutions. After all, if your child comes up with the solution, they will be more likely to follow through. If your child can’t think of any ideas, it’s OK to offer some up to get them started.
Ask for help
If you or your child feel too stressed or overwhelmed about the start of the school year, ask for help from someone at your child’s school like a guidance counselor, social worker or assistant principal. You can also seek help from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, to help you better manage and cope with the stress.