Children look forward to summer after a long school year that is full of work and challenges. Many participate in Summer Camps or mix different fun activities. It’s a time for making new friends and also to further consolidate friendships and keep building strong bonds with the family.
But, as with all, summer has an end, and immediately after comes Back-to-School. Reinitiating school can be both exciting and scary. It’s exciting for kids to reunite with friends and share their great summer experiences. At the same time, Back-to-School means going back to hard work and it includes the anticipatory anxiety of a new teacher, a new school year, sometimes a new school, and new friends.
All together, Back-to-School can bring a set of emotions, thoughts, and feelings that should be monitored in children. Below are some of the recommendations to help children re-engage in school as smoothly as possible.
Be attentive and explore. Talk to your child and discuss going back to school, and probe into how your child feels about it. Allow the child to express their thoughts, excitement, and possible concerns without interrupting, challenging, or telling them that they should not feel that way. Instead, promote dialogue and encourage your child to share. As they share, you can also provide reassurance, offer support, and ask in what way you can help. As part of the process, it’s important to validate their concerns while at the same time providing a supportive perspective that can help diminish concerns (e.g. “remember last year, you were a bit anxious about the start of school, and then you did really fantastic”).
Sometimes, children have difficulty expressing their thoughts and emotions. Be especially observant of any change in behavior (e.g. any acting out, bed-wetting, unusual behavior, etc.) that can be a way to communicate and ask for help.
If needed, contact your school counselor or any other school representative to share your child’s concerns or yours, and to find solutions prior to the start of school or as early as possible. The goal is to identify any possible issue as early in the process as possible to avoid this building into a bigger problem later in the school year.
Finally, you can also consult with a professional (e.g. psychologist) that can help you and your child in identifying coping strategies and skills, diminishing anxiety, providing support, and, as needed, serving as an intermediary with the school to address some potential issues.