Back to School Jitters? 7 Helpful Tips for Kids & Parents

IMG_5360 Girl on Bus
Photo: Kathryn Raffaele

With the new school year starting, it’s easy for kids and parents to get excited!

After all, many children can’t wait to see their friends again – especially the ones they haven’t seen all summer – and it’s fun to shop for new school supplies and clothes, too.

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, there’s often a mix of emotions. Summer vacation is ending, and at the same time, it can be good to get back into a normal routine.

Naturally, everyone – to some degree – feels anxious about meeting a new teacher, starting a new school, entering a new grade, getting up on time, and catching the bus, etc.

Fritz Maignan, founder and executive director of Four Seasons Therapy, a family counseling practice in Sherman, shares…

7 Strategies for an Easy Transition into the New School Year

  1. Start Going to Bed Earlier, Gradually.

Especially during the summer months, many children go to bed later than during the school year. To get you and your family back on track, try adjusting to an earlier time gradually – in 15-minute increments – every two or three days.

Easing into an earlier bedtime is a lot better than staring at the walls all night, wide awake. It’s also less of a shock to one’s body and psyche.

  1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Shop for Supplies & Clothes.

    IMG_5320 Backpack Girls
    Photo: Kathryn Raffaele

Some people truly love the adrenaline rush from a last-minute shopping spree. However, if you’re not into the frantic shopping experience, and like to take your time making purchasing decisions, then plan ahead. Make a list and start shopping for school before the stores get too busy. If you’re running out of time, then shop online and take advantage of free shipping offers or free deliveries to nearby stores.

Also, many of the better sales happen in the early fall, after school starts. In the meantime, students initially only need a few new back-to-school outfits and tend to wear their nicer summer clothes.

  1. Take Advantage of Meet the Teacher Day & New School Tour.

    Back to School Victoria Choi flickr v2
    Photo: Victoria Choi, Flickr.com

A day or two before the first day of school, many local schools offer a day to meet the teachers. If possible, try to attend this day with your child. Doing so can significantly reduce “the butterflies” and your child will feel less anxious about what the coming days will bring.

  1. Talk About the New Routine & Set Expectations.

Especially with younger students, talking about the particulars of what the first day of school will be like can help to ease any worries. Many teachers pass out packets and schedules on Meet the Teacher Day. Oftentimes, the information is also available online through a parent / student portal. If you do not know how to attain this information, then contact the school directly so someone can steer you in the right direction.

  1. Follow Up on Special Needs & Accommodations.

    Reading by KW Barrett - Flickr
    Photo: KW Barret, Flickr.com

Perhaps your child has a severe allergy and needs an EpiPen – or he has trouble concentrating and should not sit near a window or at the back of the classroom next to a best friend – now’s the time to follow up with the school, and teacher, to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It’s always a good idea to document needs in writing, or by email, and to also have a conversation. You are your child’s best advocate.

  1. Learn Relaxation Techniques.

There are tons of ways to relax. For those anxious moments, try simple breathing exercises like breathing in deeply and slowly. Then, exhale slowly.  Or, relax your hand and massage the inner palm with the thumb from the other hand.

For both children and adults, Maignan recommends trying the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety. This calming exercise helps to ground oneself whenever the occasional anxious thought or moment of panic begins to happen.

Also, go outside and get some fresh air the day before school starts to help calm the nerves. As a bonus, exercise – like a simple walk or leisurely bike ride – can make it easier to fall asleep.

  1. Get Organized the Night Before.

    IMG_2789 (2) Boys School
    Photo: Alicia Sakal

Pick out the first day of school outfit with your child and lay it out. Make sure everything that’s needed makes it into the backpack.

Prepare lunch or get the lunch money together. Also, pick out snacks and breakfast food the night before.

Make sure the camera is ready to go for picture taking and the cellphone is charged, too.

Don’t forget to set the alarm clock!

Once school starts, give it a few weeks for everyone to adjust to the new routine, and do so with a sense of humor. Things can and will go wrong, be forgotten, or misplaced.

Know the Warning Signs of Child Anxiety & Depression…

After a month – if your child dreads going to school on most days and is repeatedly complaining about physical ailments, like an upset stomach – she may be experiencing signs of an anxiety disorder or depression.

In order to determine if a child needs to see a psychologist, Maignan recommends reading these two informative articles about the warning signs of child anxiety and depression:

Identifying Signs of Anxiety in Children

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Children

This Article by Alicia Sakal is Sponsored By:

FOUR SEASONS THERAPY

Four Seasons Therapy professionals counsel individuals, couples, and families who need to be in a healthier state of mind.

Fritz Maignan, executive director, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Albertus Magnus and a master’s degree in counseling from Southern Connecticut State University. He has been a counselor for 19 years and has owned his practice for ten years.

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To make an appointment with a Four Seasons Therapy Counselor call: 860.750.4480

Most insurance plans are accepted.

Website: FourSeasonsTherapy.net

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to Noon, or by appointment.

Address: 1 Route 37 East, 2nd Floor, Unit #6, Sherman, CT

(Second Location: Bridgeport, CT)

Related Content: Four Seasons Therapy Opens Counseling Practice

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