Helping Kids With Back to School Jitters
It’s that time of year again when families are preparing their kids for back to school. The word “back” may be different for many children this year. Some students may actually go into school, some may do online schooling, and others may do a combination of both. With the pandemic still impacting everyday life, now more than ever, our kids may be feeling anxious and worried about going out of the home and back to the classroom or how they are going to attend class from the comforts of home.
“It’s normal for kids to feel nervous when a new school year begins, and usually after a few weeks, they get settled into the routine and start to feel comfortable,” says Jillian Young, MA, LPC, ACS Program Director, School Based Clinical Services, Intensive In-Community Services, Acenda. “This year will be different, as families are still dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and have been spending a lot of time at home with their kids, feeling secure in their environment. This school year we may see an increase in nervousness from our kids and challenges with adjustment.”
Here are 7 helpful tips parents can use to ease the stress in their children as the new school year approaches:
1.Open discussion by the whole family. If kids are going to go back to the classroom, talk about their concerns, whether it be COVID-related or not. By talking it through, it helps to relieve some anxiety and helps kids feel supported.
2. Think of some ways to make the transition smoother. Pack a lunch they really enjoy eating and put a positive note in the lunch bag every day. Mention something fun they will be able to do after a day of school. If possible, walk to school and enjoy the time together.
3. Discuss what they like about school. If they have attended before, talk about some of the studies or activities they have enjoyed the most in year’s past. Many of them will still be implemented on line if the kids are doing online learning.
4. Review the guidelines for safety surrounding the virus. As a reminder, tell them to wear their masks, wash hands often and use hand sanitizer. Tell them how their classroom and other parts of the building may look different now and that it is for their safety and not to be worried about the changes.
5.Designate an ally.Find a teacher or other trusted adult at school who can be a resource for your child when he or she is experiencing anxiety or needs help with a problem.
6. Practice following school guidelines before the new school year begins. Doing activities like practicing wearing a mask, handwashing, and social distancing before the year begins can help decrease the discomfort of a child when the time comes for them to do it in the school setting.
7. Set a schedule. If your kids are schooling at home, it’s important to schedule the day so there is learning time, homework time and some fun time mixed in. Planning ahead will be helpful so everyone knows what the routine will be.
If you feel your school-aged children are feeling overwhelmed or anxious and could benefit from additional support in preparation for the school year ahead, our clinicians are available to help. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information about our counseling and telehealth services.