Understanding and Decreasing Back to School Anxiety

School comes with a lot of new things. New teachers, new schedule, new classmates, new material to learn, and new buildings. Sometimes, when it’s a school they’ve never been to, it’s new everything. The newness of it all may lead your child to feel a fear of the unknown.

If you notice your child excessively worrying about school, not being able to sleep at night, full of fears, or agitated, your child is likely feeling anxiety. That anxiety may be about school specifically.

Many parents worry about their children and wonder if they are okay.
To know what signs are important to look for, read: “
5 Signs Your Child Needs to See a Counselor

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There are many ways to help your child feel more ready for their upcoming big day – the first day of school. Try following these tips to get your child ready and prepared for school instead of afraid and anxious.

Back to School Timeline to Reduce Anxiety

A couple weeks before school:

  • Get the routine started

    • By getting your kids used to their routine, they hustle and bustle in the morning when school does start won’t add to their anxiety

    • Morning Routine: plan a time to wake up (whenever they need to wake up for school) and start sticking to it. Help them get ready in the morning, do their hair, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth.

    • Evening Routine: this could be dinner, play for an hour, pajamas, brush teeth, set out clothes for the next day, read, and go to sleep at a certain time.

  • Get used to the school grounds

    • Show your child what door you or the bus will drop them off at

    • Younger kids would likely enjoy playing on the playground at their school

    • If there are older siblings, have them show the younger kids some of the school grounds outside like drinking fountains, music room, where you play for P.E., etc.

  • Back-to-school shopping

    • Get the clothes, school materials, and backpack your child will need for the upcoming year. Letting them pick some of these out may help them feel more excited about it.

  • Learn calming techniques

    • Teach your child things they can do to become calm when they start feeling anxious

    • Give your child a bracelet or special pencil they can hold to remember how much you love them and that you know they can do it

    • Stress balls are often used for calming too – if your child doesn’t want to tote stress balls to school, improvise! They could use erasers, a glasses case, or something else to hold

  • Set up playdates with friends

    • Help your child get to know other schoolmates so there’s a familiar face or two for them to see in their class or during recess

The week before school:

  • Plan lunches

    • Have your child help you plan their lunches for the first week of school. Or if they’ll be having school lunches, check the school website to find the lunch menu to help your child get excited for eating at school

  • Tour the school

    • There may be a day that you can go in and walk through the school

    • Show your child what door they’ll walk into

    • Help your child find their classroom

    • Teach your child where the nearby bathrooms and drinking fountains are

  • Meet the teacher

    • Teachers are in their classrooms quite often preparing for school,
      call the school office to get a hold of your child’s teacher to find a time that your child could come meet them in the classroom

  • Pack up their backpack

    • Help your child put their pencils, papers, and erasers where they can find them

    • Pack up any other items needed from the back to school checklist that school’s usually send out

The day before school:

  • Plan a tasty (and easy) breakfast

    • Whether is cereal, granola bars, fruit, or all out pancakes, eggs, and hash browns – make sure your child has a healthy breakfast to kickstart their day with

  • Plan a fun outfit

    • Lay out the outfit, socks, and shoes for the first day of school, or maybe even the first week

  • Pack a lunch for the next day

    • Help your child put together their lunch and put it in a spot that it will stay fresh

    • Stick a big note on their backpack that says “grab your lunch from the fridge”

  • Set their backpack in an easy to find spot

    • Help your child find a good spot to keep their backpack where they won’t forget it

    • It would be by the front door, in their room, by their breakfast

  • Write your child an encouraging note for them to find at school

    • Stick the note in an easy-to-find spot in their pencil bag or lunch box

Maintaining a good relationship with your kids helps them stay open with you about
what they are feeling and going through. Here are many useful ways for parents to begin
Improving Your Relationship with Your Kids