Starting a new school year is exciting for a lot of kids. For some, though, it can be an anxious time, says early childhood expert Stephanie Hinton, especially if they are first time students or transitioning to a new school.
“Talk to your kids about the daily routines that might happen,” Hinton says. “What happens in the cafeteria, what happens during art or P.E. or music. Talk to your kids about making friends. How to ask questions and make social connections with others is really important.”
The first day jitters also can disrupt a child's routine.
“If you have a younger child,” she says, “I would recommend maybe putting in a nap time during the day just so they are getting enough sleep before school starts. Sometimes, you see kids not eating as much. Just provide lots of snacks for your kids.”
Experts also suggest building an emotional vocabulary so kids can express what they're feeling.
“Give them those words. ‘I feel anxious.’ ‘I am worried.’ ‘I am concerned,’ and let them explain to you what those concerns are.”
For some families, the students aren't the only ones feeling uneasy. Hinton recommends parents keep their emotions in check, at least in front of their kids.
“Our kids are feeding off of our emotions and our anxieties, so let them feel that you’re leaving them in a happy and positive place. And when you walk away, that's when you can, kind of, give that release for yourself because you're going to want it.”
Typically, the anxieties fade once kids settle into a school routine.
“Get to know the teacher. The more you feel comfortable with the school and the environment, the more successful your child is going to be and the more successful you're going to feel as a parent.”