Although the first day back at school, or even the first ever day at school, can be an exciting prospect for some children, adjustment difficulties are common. Anxious feelings are expected and normal in children returning to school, changing schools, or for first timers starting kindergarten.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Queensland, one in 10 children aged six to 11 years suffer from anxiety and are feeling burdened by external pressures to achieve more.
Children are faced with emotional, social, and educational challenges when school is back in session. Concerns of being accepted by their peers, separation from parents and not understanding the material presented in class are often cited amongst the primary reasons that going back to school causes anxiety for a child.
The good news is that normally most children will adjust well, and their anxiety will reduce to normal levels within the first month of school. But, as a parent, is there anything you can do to support your child when they’re experiencing anxiety in the lead up to the start of school?
We’ve enlisted the help of Brent Hughes, ex-teacher and education expert for Matific, to provide us with some key strategies which could help your child to overcome their school related anxiety in the run up to ‘back to school’.
1. Ease back into a routine
Before school starts, it’s a good idea to start preparing children for the upcoming transition by helping them get back into their regular school routines. This could mean things like; earlier bedtimes, planning mornings in advance and getting back into the waking rhythm for school. It could also be a good idea to start having more chats about the upcoming academic year ahead and what your child/children are looking forward to. All this will help to get them back into the right mindset, so it’s less of a shock when the alarm goes off for the first day of term.
2. Share your own personal school experiences
As a parent, it’s beneficial to share your own school experiences; the activities you enjoyed, what you learnt, anything you felt anxious about and overcame, and subjects you may have struggled with. Children typically enjoy hearing stories from their parent’s childhood as it helps normalise the anxiety they may be feeling and offers them reassurance.
– Brent Hughes, Kidspot