It's normal for children to feel nervous or anxious about starting or going back to school, but there are a number of things parents can do to ease kids' concerns, an expert says.
"The key to reducing back-to-school jitters is open lines of communication and creating a sense of normalcy and calm," Kari Collins, director of mental health services at the School Health Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said in a Montefiore news release.
"Most children will experience a few nerves, but there are resources available that parents and kids can use to help the transition go a little more smoothly and help to boost success throughout the school year," she explained.
Parents should be upbeat when talking about school and how exciting it will be to meet new people and make new friends. Parents also need to tell children that being nervous is normal, and that they will feel more comfortable as time passes.
It's also a good idea to prepare in advance by doing things such as visiting the school ahead of time and arranging to meet the teacher, Collins said.
Before school begins, parents should have children getting used to going to bed and waking up earlier. They should make sure all necessary school supplies are purchased. For older children, it's a good idea to create a schedule of weekly activities and a daily checklist of items they need to bring to school.
It's also important for parents to help middle school and high school students feel comfortable about expressing their stress and frustrations.
"The transition to any grade level can be anxiety-producing, especially if it involves moving to a new school," Collins said. The key is not letting the information chain drop. It's a parent's responsibility to know what's happening in their child's life and address any issues together. Offering support, guidance and positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping your child succeed at school."