Whether your child is starting school for the first time, moving to a new school, or tackling a new grade, it’s normal for kids (and parents) to feel a rush of emotions when the first day of class comes around… including lots of stress and anxiety.
Naturally, you want your kids to have a great start to the school year, and it never hurts to think about how to make that happen as the summer comes to an end. Here's how to set your child up for a stress-free and successful first day.
No kid wants to cut their summer fun short by going to bed early and waking up early, but it’s a necessary evil. Well-rested children perform better in school, and sleep deprivation will only make stress and anxiety worse.
Some parents start this process a week before school. Others opt for a full two weeks. Settling into a routine is about more than sleep schedules, too. Run through the entire morning routine, from waking up through eating breakfast and getting dressed. Older kids may not need so much structure, but practicing will help younger children feel more confident and empowered about heading off to school.
Don’t forget to explain the importance of a routine. For example, if your student is stressed about how much homework they’ll have this year, talk about the family’s evening routine. Talk about how routines save time, give us more control over our schedules, and make life easier. You may even consider giving your child the chance to make their own routines.
If your child is just starting school, going to a new school, moving from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school, strongly consider visiting before classes begin. Visiting the school gives your child a chance to see the physical environment, learn the lay of the land, and ultimately become more comfortable.
Talking about any fears also helps kids work through the stress of going back to school and can even create some positive excitement once the jitters have been addressed.
Change is scary for everyone, even adults. The most helpful thing you can do for your kids when change occurs is to be there for them.
If your child complains about being scared to return to school, try to figure out the root of the problem. Are they nervous about making new friends? Did they hear that a particular teacher is mean? So many stresses can be calmed with a listening ear, and you’ll strengthen your relationship at the same time.