How to help your child with back to school jitters

September may not be the traditional New Year, but for most kids, it represents a new beginning. Some kids embrace the new school year and look forward to seeing old friends, getting new school supplies, and learning again.

Unfortunately, for some students, September can be a major source of anxiety. A new school year doesn’t just mean no more lazy days spent swimming or biking—it also means new intimidating teachers, potentially mean classmates, and harder classes.

Here are some solutions if your little one is coming down with a case of back to school jitters.

Get the hang of their morning routine

After the lazy months of summer, your child is probably used to sleeping in late, watching cartoons, and eating whenever they want. A week or so before the first day of school, get them used to waking up earlier, packing their lunch, choosing an outfit for the next day, or whatever else their typical school routine includes. It’s tricky to go from unstructured days to a regimented schedule, so slowly introducing elements of their routine will ease the transition.

Give them tips on making new friends

It’s likely that your child will not be the only one in his or her class that’s nervous. Get them out of their shell by role-playing. Have them practice introducing themselves, then give them a few conversation topics so that making friends is less scary for shy or timid kids. If possible, contact other parents and set up a play date at an ice cream shop or playground after school so they have something to look forward to and a chance to socialize.

Listen

If you notice your child is expressing symptoms of back to school jitters, sit down with them and have a conversation. Ask them simple questions like “How do you feel about your first day of school tomorrow?” Be mindful of asking leading questions like “Are you nervous about your first day?” or even “Are you excited for your first day?” This allows them to be honest with you. Validate their feelings by trying to remember your own experiences going back to school and letting them know you felt the same way and you turned out just fine.

Distract them with a good book

There is a massive selection of books out there about going back to school or starting kindergarten that are both funny and heart-warming. Reading a relevant book can take your child’s mind off their nerves and remind them that what they’re feeling is normal. Visit your local library or bookstore and ask the librarian or store assistant for recommendations, then read the book with your child before the start of school.

Don’t forget to get support as a parent!

Now that you’ve helped your child get over their back to school jitters, make sure that you’re getting the support you need as a parent—view our programs for parents and families to see how we can support you.