Tips to Ease Back-to School Stress
By Jeremiah Boone
County of Orange Social Services Agency
According to PBS Kids (link to: https://to.pbs.org/3IXUol6), back-to-school time may find parents and caregivers feeling ecstatic and anxious. If your child is excited to go back to school, worries about separation or change may not be an issue. Children who are uneasy or cautious in a new environment typically find change challenging. Here are some tips from PBS Kids to help make the shift back to school as smooth as possible for both you and your child.
Quality sleep is essential to a child’s success at school. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, gradually shift their bedtime back to the appropriate time for school nights. Keep in mind it generally takes one hour to transition from being awake to fully asleep. Create a soothing winddown routine to help your child fall asleep faster.
Use a Calendar
Circle the back-to-school date and show your child exactly when he/she will be returning to school. Create a timeline for the last two weeks of summer break. Schedule and write on the calendar activities such as clothes and school supply shopping, on-site school registration and any other tasks to successfully start the academic year. A visual timetable helps to lower anxiety and enables your child to efficiently switch from vacation mode to school mode.
Reconnect with School Friends
Arrange play dates before your child returns to school. Positive interactions with friends can make going back to school easier for your child.
Visit the School in Advance
If allowed, explore the school grounds. Help your child find their new classroom. Play on the playground. The more familiar your child is with their school setting, the less fearful he/she will be. This is especially important if your child is starting in a new classroom or school.
With your child, outline the morning routine on a whiteboard or paper and have it posted for everyone in the family to see. Rushing around in the morning trying to pack backpacks, make lunches, eat a filling breakfast and head out the door on time can create anxiety in children. Create opportunities for instilling responsibility in your child. Have him/her fill water bottles, pick out outfits and shower the night before. This will ease the morning rush.
Clear Your Schedule
Simplify your evening and weekend commitments during the first weeks of school. Instead, reconnect as a family. Go for a walk. Play board games. Enjoy a meal together. The added breathing room will do your family good.
If your child expresses concern about returning to school, it is important to acknowledge, accept and empathize with their feelings first before jumping in to reassure them. Labeling difficult feelings