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Helping Your Children Emotionally Prepare for School

Posted Aug 07 2012 7:00am

Can you believe how fast the summer is flying by?  It seems like just yesterday school was letting out for the summer, yet here we are getting ready to start another school year. 

With the start of a new school year come some anxiety for many students.   Students are re-entering an environment that may or may not have good memories for them from the previous year and  for the new kid in school, it is a new universe where you know no one and have to find a place to fit in.  Many kids don’t get enough sleep that first night, not because they don’t go to bed early enough, but because of the butterflies in their stomachs.

Recognize This Is Normal – The first thing that parents should understand is that this type of nervousness is normal.   Express to your child that they don’t have to hide their feelings from you out of embarrassment.  They are not alone in how they feel.  As you know, you yourself as a parent can go through some nervousness during the first few days of school as well.  Talk to your child about his/her feelings and let them know that you understand their feelings.  

Major changes in grade level are also a cause for anxiety.  When kids attend a new school due to promotion it is a time of excitement and fear about what it will all turn out to be.  This occurs when kids go from preschool to kindergarten, elementary school to middle school, and middle school to high school. 

Start early – If at all possible try to easer their fears by visiting the school before during the summer.  Many schools will allow you to set up a time for a walk-through with your child.  Teachers are at the school several weeks before the start of the school term to get their rooms ready for students.  Let your child meet the teacher and talk with them.  You will return for orientation, but this visit allows the child to get one-on-one time to put their fears to rest.

This also works with students going from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school.  The big concern here is more social status than teacher anxiety.  In each case, the student has reached the top in their respective school.  They were a “big fish” so to speak.  Now, they have to start all over again from the bottom with older kids holding the top position in the school.  Try to connect your child with other children in the neighborhood that are going to be attending the same school.  This way they won’t feel as if they have to ‘go at it alone’.

Reassurance is key – Let your child know that they anxiousness will go away with time  If you child is nervous about being in the lower grade in the school, check with the school to see how their school set up is.  Many schools have separate hallways for students of different grade levels so that the younger students aren’t mixing with the older ones.  By doing this, a lot of potential bullying of younger kids is thwarted.  Each child can feel a certain level of security in school.

Emotional preparation can begin as early as a month before school begins.  Visiting the school and talking to your child about their anxieties takes time for them to process.  Give them as much time as they need.   If you are the parent of a new or existing High School student,  Click Here to learn how to help your child succeed during the High School years .  

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