Whether children and young people are returning to the same school, setting foot in a new one or moving to a new grade level, a few jitters are natural, said Laura Hubbs-Tait, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension parenting specialist.
“As fun and exciting as it can be to begin a new school year, it also can be a stressful experience not only for students but also their parents,” Hubbs-Tait said. “There are plenty of positive ways to deal with any potential jitters or anxiety.”
For starters, parents should strive to project the right attitude to help set the tone for the upcoming year.
“The truth is parents may be just as anxious as their children about heading into a new school year, but if children pick up on that nervousness it can add to their hesitation and reluctance,” Hubbs-Tait said. “Parents in need of reassurance should reach out to friends, other family members or even a professional counselor to talk through any concerns or issues, because the ultimate goal is to be in the right frame of mind to support your children and give them the best possible start to the new school year.”
Displaying the right attitude can include offering general encouragement, speaking positively about classes and teachers and encouraging children to get involved with extracurricular activities.
Establishing a consistent routine also can help remedy new-school-year jitters.
Examples of helpful routines include beginning the day with a healthy breakfast, setting aside a regular time for homework, establishing an appropriate bedtime, and even identifying specific times for watching television or other family activities.
“School-aged children should be well used to bedtime routines such as bathing, brushing teeth and reading a story and it’s a good idea for parents to become accustomed to talking with children about assignments, grades and what’s happening in the classroom,” Hubbs-Tait said. “If these routines haven’t been established yet or they’ve been interrupted by summer activities, the start of the school year is an opportune time to create or resume these positive habits.”
Finally, it is extremely important that families regularly take the time to share the day’s events and activities with each other.
“Dinner is great time to talk about what happened at school that day and what’s coming up,” Hubbs-Tait said. “This is a chance for children to talk about what they’re learning, their friends and classmates, any problems that they are facing and how they’re feeling about all of these.”