Tips for dealing with Back-to-School anxiety

If you are already starting to notice signs of anxiety in your child about going back to school, look no further as the Peel District School Board is offering tips on coping with beginning-of-the-year anxiety.

1. Ease back into a routine

Getting right back into regular school routines is the best way to prepare kids for the transition of going back to school. These include, earlier bed times, planning for the next morning, and going over after-school activities together. Discussing what will happen on their first day of school, the night before, will help them to prepare mentally and physically for a new day.

2. Become familiar with the school

Being informed is a good way to reduce anxiety in both children and parents. Provide children with as much exposure to their school as possible by visiting the website, walking or driving to the school, spending time on the playground, and rehearsing the pick-up and drop-off. Teens’ can review their class timetables together with parents or review Peel’s parent guide to high school.

3. Share positive, personal school experiences

Share your own school experiences including activities you enjoyed, what you learned and how that has impacted your life. Children enjoy hearing stories from their parents’ childhoods because it helps to normalize nervousness they are feeling while providing reassurance.

4. Connect your child with friends

Schedule a play date or a school carpool with a familiar face from last year. Visits to the playground with neighbours and friends can also help children feel more comfortable when they reconnect with their peers at school.

5. Parents are not alone

If a child’s anxious behaviour persists, speak with their teacher(s), principal or vice-principal, or a family doctor. Parents and guardians can also review tip sheets on the board’s website and get involved in their child’s education in several ways. Other back-to-school resources are provided by Kids Help Phone and other community partners like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

“The transition back to class as summer ends can be an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time for some families,” says Jim Van Buskirk, chief social worker for the Peel board. “Feelings of anxiousness about school can be very real—children may experience separation anxiety, be afraid of riding the bus or may experience nervousness about the courses they’re taking. Acknowledging fears and offering support helps students navigate the back-to-school transition. Like school staff, families can make the transition less daunting by preparing their children both emotionally and physically for a great start to the new school year.”

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