five tips to ease back to school butterflies
You remember the days - picking out school supplies, buying new clothes, filling out your new planner. Among all the fun of preparation, going back to school can also make kids anxious. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will be an everyday routine in no time.
Focus on the positive things about going back to school, such as hanging out with old friends, meeting new classmates, learning new things, or getting involved in sports and other activities. It's also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer support: Are they afraid they won't make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year? "Back to school success can hinge on relationships and routines. For example, build in time to talk with your children, create partnerships with teachers, develop a structure for homework time, and have a bedtime routine," says Christine Abbuhl, PhD, psychologist at Dayton Children's.
To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to ease kids into a consistent school-night routine the week before school starts. Also make sure that they:
1. Get enough sleep (set a reasonable bedtime so that they'll be rested and ready to learn in the morning)
2. Eat a healthy breakfast (they're more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day)
3. Write down important information such as their locker combination, what time classes and lunch start and end, their homeroom and classroom numbers, teachers' and/or bus drivers' names, etc.
4. Use a wall calendar or planner to record when assignments are due, test dates, and extracurricular activities.
5. Have kids organize and set out what they need the night before (homework and books in backpacks by the door and clothes laid out in their bedrooms)
Consider adjusting your own schedule for the first week to make the transition smoother. If possible, it can help for parents to be home at the end of the school day for a few days. If that isn’t possible, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids extra time, especially during the first week.
If your child is going to a new school, try to arrange a visit before school starts. And ask if your child can be paired up with another student, or "buddy," and if you can be connected with other new parents. This will help both of you with the adjustment to new people and surroundings. Some schools give kids maps to use until things become more familiar.
It's normal to be anxious in any new situation. But a few kids develop real physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, at the start of school. If you're concerned that your child's worries go beyond the normal back-to-school jitters, speak with your child's doctor, teacher, or school counselor.