Easing back-to-school anxiety for your child starts with understanding the root of their anxiety. Once the family gets back into the rhythm of school and extracurriculars, your child’s anxiety will likely go away on its own. We’ve all experienced being nervous about change or the unknown. There are ways you can help your child approach school with a positive mindset, though. We will talk about that shortly.
Before getting into that, I want to mention the possibility that your child is dreading school because of an underlying learning disorder or learning weakness. If they struggled to master concepts in the previous school year, they will probably begin the next school year with a knot in their stomach. That knot will only grow tighter when they have to learn new concepts that build off old concepts that they never got a hold of. This is where intervention will be necessary.
Let’s look at ways we can ease back-to-school anxiety as kids approach the new year.
Identify Back-to-School Anxiety
Too often kids’ anxiety masquerades as moodiness, misbehavior, or random outbursts. Parents have the tough job of decoding these signs. It may help to spend some time one-on-one with your child to try to find out why they are acting this way. Consider doing their favorite activity with them. Some kids may benefit from crafting or going for a walk while they talk.
Try to ask open-ended questions, rather than leading them to a certain answer. For example, ask, “How are you feeling about being back at school?” instead of “Are you feeling sad about school?” Hopefully, the conversation will help both of you realize what is really going on below the surface of their poor behavior.
Set Academic Goals
Working with your child to set a goal can give them something to work towards. Take some time to discuss how they felt last year went and if they think last year’s effort and study habits could achieve them this year’s goals. Discuss ways they can improve and grow this year.
Schedule Playdates with School Friends
If social anxiety has a hand in your child’s negative thoughts towards school, then meeting up with some school friends can help. Consider planning a beach day with other parents while the summer weather is still around. Or host a back-to-school get together. Interacting with these kids outside of school may help to replace your child’s back-to-school anxiety with excitement for seeing their friends every day.
I’m a big advocate for journaling. There are so many mental and emotional health benefits. Kids get the added bonus of extra writing practice. You can either give your kids a journal prompt or just encourage them to reflect on the day. You might find it helpful to journal with them during a specific time each day. The goal of journaling in relation to this blog topic is to help kids consider their anxiety objectively and untangle themselves from the anxiety.
Sign up for an Assessment
If a child is nervous to start school because of an undiagnosed learning disorder, the above suggestions may make them feel better, but they will not help them do better in school. I highly recommend signing them up for an academic assessment. An academic assessment, also known as an educational evaluation, will give you insight into your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The testing can also give insight to their student’s teacher to help provide them assistance in the classroom. Based on test results, students “may” qualify for accommodations in the classroom.
If you are ready to sign your child up for an assessment, do not delay! Distance learning has made more families aware of how their children were struggling in school, so spaces are filling up quickly.
The insight that an assessment can provide is not only useful in school. It also provides many benefits to future careers because kids will be aware of the areas they are weaker and have the tools to continue growing. They will also qualify for accommodations, if testing reveals that they need them.
Speak to a Professional
I cannot say it enough times, I am always happy to speak to parents and answer any questions about testing. Please give me a call at 661-255-2688 when you are ready or fill out my contact form if you would like me to reach out.