Editor’s note: This installment of Mental Health Matters from the experts at Ravenwood Health addresses the back-to-school jitters many kids face this time of year. Natalie Smith, LISW-S, CTP, is Ravenwood’s Child and Family Program Director.
By Natalie Smith
It’s hard to imagine the start of the new school year is right around the corner! While nearly all children may experience some back-to-school butterflies, some children experience significant anxiety when returning to school. They may have difficulty separating from their caregivers when the school year starts. Some children experience impulsivity, difficulty with attention and even temper tantrums.
Tips that may lessen back-to-school anxiety
It’s very important to help your child get back to a school year schedule by implementing school year routines a week or two before school starts. You will want to implement a school-year bed time and wake time. They can even practice packing a book bag or setting out their clothes.
It also may be helpful to arrange play dates prior to school starting with one or more familiar friends. Seeing familiar faces prior to school starting can help with the adjustment back.
Another tip is to visit the school and take a tour before the school year. Ask the building principal for a map of the school so that your child can become familiar with the hallways in and out of the building, the bathrooms, and where their locker will be. If they with be switching classes it may be helpful to do a “walk through” of their day so they know how to get from class to class.
Finally, validate your child’s worry by acknowledging that, like any new activity, starting school can be challenging but soon will become easy and fun!
If you notice any of the anxiety, impulsivity or tantrums persisting longer than a few weeks into the start of the school year, please do not hesitate to reach out for additional advice by contacting your school’s guidance department or local community resources such as Ravenwood Health.
Need more support for your child? Visit ravenwoodhealth.org or call 440.285.3568 to learn more or talk to someone today.
P.S. – For the younger kids, I recommend reading to them, First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.