Does it feel like the summer passed by in a blink? Our summer break was shortened because of last year’s numerous snow days. So, it seems even harder to believe that it’s time … already!
Whether you’ve taken your first day of school photos or you have a few more days or weeks of anticipation … going back to school can be stressful and filled with apprehension.
I’ve experienced back to school anxiety as a student, teacher, and parent; so, I thought I might be able to share a few tips for calming back to school anxiety and help you can begin the year with as little stress as possible.
The fact that everyone is feeling a little anxious shouldn’t surprise us…
Students are Wondering…
- Will I make friends?
- Will I like my teachers?
- Will my teachers like me?
- Am I smart enough?
- Will I get bullied?
- Will kids make fun of me?
- Will I get lost?
- How much homework will I have?
- Will I miss the bus?
- Will I be bored?
- Will I make the team, the choir, or get a part in the play?
- Will I like school?
Parents are Wondering…
- Will my children like their teachers?
- Will their teachers like them?
- Will they get a good teacher?
- Will they succeed academically?
- Will they make friends easily?
- Will they make the team, the choir, or be chosen for the play?
- How many extra activities are too many?
- How can I make sure they get enough sleep?
- Will they eat a good lunch?
- Will my child get bullied?
- Will they be happy?
And Teachers are Wondering…
- Will my students like me?
- Will my students respect me?
- How many authority challengers will I have in my class?
- How many learning challenged students will I have?
- What can I do to keep their attention?
- Will this year’s staff be helpful and supportive?
- Will I have enough time to get everything done?
- Will my family suffer as I try to do it all?
- Will I be an effective motivator?
Whew! And it’s possible I missed the thing that’s making you or your child the most anxious.
After years of coping with my own apprehension, nerves, and questions while also trying to calm my children as they struggled with back to school anxiety … I created a list of tips I believe will make the transition back to school a little less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
6 of the Best Ways for Calming Back to School Anxiety
1. Talk About School Positively
It’s fine to say you’ll miss the extra time you’ve enjoyed this summer as you reminisce about all the fun you’ve shared; but as you do, remind yourself and your child of the things you enjoy about the school year, too. Talk about sporting events and concerts, seeing their friends every day, and the new things you will learn together.
Be positive and enthusiastic.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Philippians 4:8
2. Get a Little One on One Time
Maybe it’s a little school shopping or a lunch or ice cream date. Take an hour or two for alone time with each child going back to school. A time to talk about what they’re looking forward to as well as what they’re not.
“Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole room full of possibilities.” ~ Gary Smalley
Just listen and affirm their feelings. Don’t be quick to have an answer or solve things for them.
Then you’ll be ready to…
3. Help Your Child Problem Solve
When you know the things making your child anxious, you’re ready to start helping them plan and prepare ways they might react if some of them happen. Ask questions, “How do you think you could react in that situation?” or “What do you think is the best thing to do if that happens?”
You might even share some stories from your own childhood … things that worked and things that didn’t!
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” ~ Anne Lamott
That’s some good advice!
4. Prepare and Organize
Teachers are busy planning, organizing, and preparing . . . parents and students can do the same.
Start by setting goals for your family’s schedule. Make a list of possible meals to make when you’re short on time. Have your children help set up a homework space, and work on a central information station to keep the never-ending stack of papers and busy schedules organized.
“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ~Richard Cushing
Noah was trusting God and following His plans…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3:5–6
5. Ease into the New Schedule
Start adjusting bedtime and gradually move wake up time … especially for younger children. Begin the week before school starts and try to move the time ahead in 15-minute increments as needed.
Gradual change will make the adjustment easier. And encouraging more sleep and a healthy diet will help everyone manage their feelings of stress and anxiety in more positive ways.
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.” ~ David M. Burns
Give yourself and your children grace when you miss the goal today. Just don’t give up! You can always try again tomorrow!
Pray for your children, their friends, and their teachers.
Pray they will be kind and patient, healthy and protected, wise and understanding.
Ask God to equip them for any challenges they face and to help them stand strong when they’re faced with temptation.
Ask the Lord to place people around them who will encourage them to honor Him and grow in faith.
Ask Him to bless each classroom with a healthy environment for learning; one that is encouraging and filled with respect.
Pray with your child.
Encourage him/her to take every concern and anxious thought to God and assure them that they can trust Him to give them the courage and strength they need each day.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado
And encourage them to memorize…
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.Philippians 4:13 and 1 Peter 5:7
I’m praying for you and your families today … asking God to calm your back to school anxiety and bless the year ahead!
And you need to know … these things apply if you homeschool, too! Adding teacher to your role of parent needs a whole lot of patience, preparation and prayer.
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