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Reducing Back-to-School Anxiety in Your Children

August 25, 2011

As we get closer to the start of the school year, many children are beginning to feel the excitement of heading back – new clothes to buy, school supplies (optional, remember? 🙂 and re-connecting with their friends.  However, some may be feeling quite anxious about school beginning, whether they are a returning student or new to our community.  A principal colleague of mine in our board has shared a list of tips to help you support your child if they are experiencing back-to-school anxiety:

  • Read the book “The Kissing Hand” with your child(ren) before school begins and come up with your own ritual
  • Ask your child(ren) to identify what their worries are specifically – make the list and discuss each one (try to avoid thinking to yourself that they are big or small treat them all equally)
  • Make a chart of “Things I Can Change” and “Things I Can’t Change” so that they can feel more in control of their worries and fears
  • Identify how you and they notice they are stressed or worried (physical, social and emotional reactions and changes)
  • Ask them to create a plan of things that they can do to feel better when they are anxious and share the plan with their teacher(s)
  • Give your child some trinket or piece of cloth for their pocket to touch when they are beginning to feel anxious
  • Begin getting your child up at the regular school year time a week in advance as tiredness can often make anxiety much worse
  • Discuss the layout of the school with your child(ren) and ensure that they are aware of what places they can go to safely when they need to take a body break
  • Make a list with your child about friends and staff at school that they can talk to and that know how they feel when they are anxious
  • Write all of their worries down and then put them in your wallet or purse and let your child(ren) know that you are carrying them too and hopefully taking them away a little or ‘easing the load’
  • Ask your child(ren) to tell you all that they know about their new teacher and classroom and do some visualization with them about all of the wonderful things they are looking forward to throughout the year.
  • Ensure that you and your child(ren) are organized and ready to begin school (research shows that the more organized and prepared a child is, the lower the anxiety)
  • Bring your child to the school/yard/immediate area of the school at least a few times before school begins so that they feel familiar and more comfortable with their physical surroundings
  • Have your child draw a map of their school and label their classroom, the route to the bathroom, library, gym, yard, front office, etc.
  • For grades 1-4 – “I Bet I Won’t Fret” or “What to Do When You Worry Too Much” are helpful guides/workbooks
  • For grade 5-8 – “Anxiety Workbook for Teens” would be helpful resource
  • Other recommended books to read:
    • Courage  By: Bernard Waber
    • When My Worries Get Too Big By: K. Buron
    • David and The Worry Beast By: A. Guanci
    • A Boy and A Bear By: Lori Lite
    • The Invisible String By: Patrice Karst

Please note that there are suggestions and are not to be taken as medical advice.  If you feel your child has serious anxiety issues, please contact your family doctor and get his/her advice.  Please let us know at the school if there is anything we can do to support you and your child. We want this to be as happy a time as possible for your family.

~Mrs. Paynter

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2 Comments
  1. i wold like to know when i can register my kids. i am from Findlay Creek and this is the first time my kids go to this school and i don’t know what i do. when can i go to register?

  2. Welcome to Elizabeth Park! On Monday, August 29 our school office will open. Our Office Administrator and Office Assistant will be available to help you with the paperwork necessary to register your children. When you come, please bring their proof of birth documents and their immunization cards (little yellow cards). You can fill out the registration forms, and you may get a quick tour of our school as well. Look forward to seeing you!
    Mrs. Paynter

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