Has school already started for your grade schooler, or are you prepping backpacks and counting days like I am? The first few weeks back to school are always bittersweet, marking the end of a fun summer but also promising new energy and excitement for the year ahead. On the plus side – the first few weeks back usually offer a quiet lull before the storm of sport practices, after school activities, and birthday party invitations.
But in the bustle of planning and preparation, it is important not to neglect the back-to-school jitters that affect many grade school-age kids. Even if your child wasn’t apprehensive about entering 1st grade, it’s possible that he has more misgivings about 2nd grade now that he’s more aware of teachers, friends and other aspects of elementary school life.
If you suspect that your child is worried about starting school, try some of these tips from Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University(as told to Working Mother magazine, Aug/Sep 2011).
- Take a trial run. Try to visit your child’s classroom before the first day of school. For cases of extreme worry, ask your child’s teacher if she can meet your child in the classroom for a short while (many teachers will already be in the school preparing their classrooms in the days before school). Ask the school administration office for a list of students in your child’s class so she will be reassured by seeing some familiar names.
- Pack a memento. Add a photo or note in your child’s backpack or lunchbox to make her feel safe and remind her of family during the day.
- Be a good listener. Don’t just tell your child that everything will be OK. Instead, listen to her specific concerns so you can reassuringly address them one at a time and put her at ease.
Good luck as your child transitions back to school. A smooth first week is a great starting point before soccer, piano and parties get added to the mix. And if your child will be celebrating a birthday during those early weeks of school, consult our recent blog for additional advice about back-to-school birthday parties.