Welcome back to school! I hope that everyone had a positive and refreshing holiday.
Most children and parents (probably all) look forward to the start of school again. Getting to see their friends, meet the new students and teachers can be so exciting. But changing grades can also cause anxiety in some children. Sometimes they may feel overwhelmed with all of the changes that a new school year brings.
You can support your child at home in a few ways:
- Acknowledge that their worries or stress are real. Validate their feelings and let them know that you understand. Dismissing a child’s worries can lead to arguments.
- Emphasize continuity, rather than dramatic changes, helps children feel less adrift. Ask your child, “How different are you the day after your birthday compared to the day before your birthday?” The answer, of course, is that although the chronological age has changed, your child hasn’t changed noticeably. Moving up a grade works the same way. You may also want to let them know that “just like you managed the transition from kindergarten to grade 1 (pick your grade), I’m sure you’ll manage this transition too. It’s just another step on the same path.”
- Focus on the positives. Remind your child that school is a safe place for them, their teachers care about them (old ones and new ones) and that each day there are opportunities to grow and learn new things.
- Finally, the most important thing you can do to ease back-to-school worries is to share your confidence in your child’s ability to cope. Children tend to look to their parents to help gauge, “How dangerous is this new situation?” If you are calmly optimistic that your child will manage the back-to-school transition, it makes it easier for your child to be hopeful too. A couple of good things to say may be, “Right now, the idea of changing classes seems scary, but my guess is that after a few weeks, you’ll be used to it, and it will seem like no big deal.” You may also want to remind them of successful stories from the past.
I hope these small suggestions can open up conversations with your children about how they are feeling about school this year. I look forward to working with you and your children towards a successful school year.
Cheryl Fullerton, School Counselor