The pandemic shook up our children’s worlds. Indeed, they endured massive changes in their education and related activities.
Transitioning back to school can be stressful for them and some anxiety is normal. This is especially true for kids in Montessori daycare since school is still a fairly new concept. You may find them seeking reassurance by asking whether their friends will be in their class. You may also have to field complaints about headaches or stomach aches, or see changes in their sleep patterns.
Being parents, you have to understand the difference between normal back-to-school fears and anxiety that warrants expert attention.
In this post we discuss why children may be stressed and share techniques to ease their anxieties, as recommended by experts from our Montessori school in Markham.
Causes of Back-to-School Anxiety or Stress in Your Child
There could be many reasons behind your child’s fear. Maybe they fear the unknown, especially if they are changing schools or in a new building. Or they could be worried about making new friends, or exams.
Here are key reasons why your child may be experiencing back-to-school anxiety:
- Fear of being separated from parents for an extended period of time
- Concerns about making new friends
- Fear of bullies or peer pressure
- Worrying about schoolwork and grades
- Juggling responsibilities, such as school and sports
- COVID-related concerns
There are countless reasons why kids experience anxiety and stress. Indeed, their reasons are as unique as they are. When they are anxious, they may not know how to put their feelings into words, let alone manage their anxiety. As their parent, you have to make sure you are doing what you can to alleviate uncomfortable feelings. Here, you will learn effective ways to manage back-to-school anxiety in your child.
1. Focus on the Positives
It’s likely that you and your children have not been separated for a significant amount of time in the last two years. So, even the thought of separation could be a big reason for their anxiety.
So, help them focus on positive things to make them feel safe. You can start by talking about the good things about school, like what they are looking forward to or what they enjoyed previously.
You can also have them take transitional objects like a stone, button, or handkerchief with them to feel connected to home. This may take their mind off their worries.
When it comes to going back to school, children may dwell on negative thoughts like having to wake up early or having less playtime. In those cases, approach the anxiety head-on. Remind them about what makes going to school great. If they are worried about the bus, visit the bus stop together to help them overcome that fear. Highlight the exciting things like favourite snacks, the playground, art class, creative activities, and meeting up with friends. This will help shift their attention away from anxiety and towards positive experiences.
2. Promote Healthy Living
One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to improve their eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. So, make sure that your kid is eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest and activity.
Getting a good night’s sleep will help prevent their anxiety. It’s generally a good idea to transition your child from their holiday wake-up time back to their school wake-up time. It can take upto 10-14 days to readjust. Also, ensure they are eating a balanced breakfast; this is important for brain function, mood, and their ability to focus and pay attention in school.
Encourage them to try different physical activities as they are great stress relievers. Some kids prefer reading or journaling. You know your child best, so make sure you are choosing activities that will work for them.
3. Practice School Routines
Start preparing your child for the upcoming transitions a week or two before school. Make sure that they have a predictable routine leading up to school to help them feel more secure. This includes a realistic bedtime (as discussed, selecting the next day’s clothes, having breakfast, and sharing hugs at drop-off.
Have them practice walking into class while you wait outside or down the hall. Do this for a few days to help them get used to the routine.
You can also coordinate a plan with their teacher. So, when they step in to engage your child, you will know when to say goodbye. Practicing this separation makes it easier for both child and parent.
5. Set Up Playdates
Once school reopens, your child will be spending a big chunk of their day with other children. Research shows that the presence of a friend during school transitions can improve your child’s academic and emotional adjustment.
So, set up different playdates to help your child reconnect with other children, especially friends or classmates. Invite both old classmates and new ones, if you know any of their names. This is also a good way for them to make new friends.
6. Remind Your Child that They Are Not Alone
Being separated from parents is one of the worst feelings for many children. So, if your child is especially clingy or fearful, try to understand from where it is coming. Validate their feelings and let them have space to express them.
Then assure them that they are not alone; that other students are just as anxious about their first day at school. Living through the pandemic accentuated feelings of loneliness and isolation in children, so do what you can to reconnect them with their peers. Let them think of it as a chance to bond with their classmates so they can find a way to overcome their nervousness together.
The key to supporting children who are stressed or anxious about the upcoming school year is to be there for them. Listen to their concerns without minimizing their feelings. If you need any expert help, connect with the experts at Markham Montessori school Trillium. They will help create an environment as normal as it was before COVID and guide them in getting rid of their anxiety.