My son is starting middle school this year. (I CAN”T BELIEVE IT! sniff.) This is the first year EVER where he can’t stop asking me when school is going to start. But, while he’s excited to head to a new, bigger school where he’ll have access to more friends, clubs, and social events, he is still a little apprehensive. It’s new and it’s change and that’s always scary.
To us it may not seem like a big deal but yourself in your kids’ shoes this Back-to-School season. Heading back to school is exciting but it can also cause a little fear or anxiety for your kids. Especially if they are starting a new school – jumping up to middle school or high school, moving to a neighborhood, or even taking that big step from kindergarten to all day first grade. Being introduced to a new building, new teachers, new classmates and even a locker with a lock is a big transition. Even if your child is excited and eager to go to their new school, they may be anxious about a few things and it’s helpful to identify their stress and talk it out.
Here are some tips to smooth the transition and start the new school year off right.
Get Them Involved.
Have your kids help you with the back to school shopping. They’ll feel more in control if they can help with the process of choosing their supplies, backpack and even school clothes.
Don’t Miss Orientations.
No matter what grade your kids are entering this year, be sure to attend Back-to-School Nights and Meet the Teacher(s) events before school starts. It makes a huge difference to see a friendly face on the first day of school.
Be relaxed but excited.
Kids can sense any anxiety you may be feeling, so be sure to talk positively about school. Don’t ask them if they are nervous if they haven’t even considered that they need to be nervous yet. (My kids run wild with the power of suggestion, so I try to head it off at the pass.) Talk positively with your child about new experiences and new friends.
Practice makes perfect.
Kids will feel more secure if they know what to expect so practice walking to school or the bus stop. Or drive to the school and say, “This is where I’ll park to pick you up or where the bus will drop you off and that is the door you will go into.” Walk through the middle or high school building with your kids so they can find their locker and their class rooms. Practice using a combination lock with your soon-to-be middle school student. I was surprised that this was one of the main anxieties for kids starting middle school.
Talk it out.
Nothing beats just talking about the upcoming school year. Take the opportunity to talk with your kids at the dinner table or while driving in the car to see what they are most excited about or what is making them a little nervous. Tell them how you felt when you started school. One thing that has worked well for us is to find a kid in the neighborhood that is a year or two older and have your child talk to them about what the new school is like.
Here are even more specific tips on how to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten, Smoothly Transitioning Your Kid Into Middle School or Preparing for High School. Or, check out all of my Back-to-School Tips for Busy Moms.
Do you have a child starting kindergarten, middle school or high school this year? Are they nervous or excited? How do you help ease their anxieties?