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As the fun-filled days of summer wind down, most kids are beginning to get excited about going back to school. If your child will be attending a new school this year, he or she may also be feeling a little anxious. Discussing these things with your child can help to ease the transition into a new school. Here are 10 things that parents should plan on when it comes to easing their child's back to school anxiety:
First impressions count
We all know the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Explain this to your child, and discuss what type of impression he wants to make, not only with classmates, but also with teachers. Remind him to be friendly, make eye contact and listen when others are talking, and pay attention in class. Being comfortable with the way others view him will help your child feel better about this new situation.
- Ask questions about the other person.
- Tell something interesting about yourself.
- Talk about your hobbies, and find a common interest.
- Invite the other person to play or to sit with you.
- Take turns.
National Board certified teacher Erika Acklin offers this reminder: “You have to be a good friend to make a new friend.” Remind your child to talk to different people, not just one group of kids, to meet as many people as possible, and always try to be nice to everyone.
Discus how your child will get home at the end of the day, then do a practice run. Drive through the car circle and point out where you will pick him up, or walk the route from the school or bus stop together.
Discuss what teams or clubs your child might like to join. Being involved in school activities is a great way to make friends and feel a sense of belonging. Some groups start meeting or practicing over the summer. Be sure to find out how soon your child can join so he doesn’t miss out, and can start meeting people right away.
What to expect
Talk with your child about what to expect at the new school. If he is entering middle school for the first time, talk about the differences he will find, such as changing classes, having a locker, changing clothes and showering during gym, and selecting some of his courses. The fewer surprises your child finds on the first day of school, the better. If there is a friend or neighbor that attends the same school, try to arrange a time for the kids to get together and talk.
Ways to get off to a good start
Discuss what things your child feels would help her get off to a good start on the first day of school. A few ideas to calm nerves in the final days of summer might include: touring the school, finding classrooms, locating her locker, and meeting the teacher. Ideas for the big day might be a favorite breakfast, getting up early to avoid rushing, choosing an outfit ahead of time, having her backpack ready, leaving early enough to meet up with a friend before class, or having time to visit with other kids at the bus stop. Younger kids will probably say they want you to walk them to class, so consider making adjustments to your schedule if possible.