As many school districts prepare to reopen, you and your children may be feeling a variety of emotions along with the usual first day jitters. No matter their age or grade level, apprehension and anxiety are most likely elevated even more for many children. In a previous post, Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, provides advice to families that still applies, even in our new extreme circumstances.
Your child has new shoes, new clothes and maybe a new backpack for the start of the school year. You are excited to see the children going back to school and the return of a regular routine. In your effort to get your child excited about the start of the school, be careful not to overdo it!
Don’t set the bar too high by suggesting this school year will be lots of fun, because the student will get to do homework, change classes or buy lunch at school. All of those activities could be a source of concern for the student experiencing them for the first time.
Suggest instead that all the students will be changing classes or writing down homework in a planner for the first time. Everyone is going to be nervous! Have a conversation about other new situations that the student has successfully dealt with, such as the first day of soccer practice, the first day of Kindergarten, the first time they spent the night away from home. Talk about the strategies they used to “push through” feeling nervous and actually participate in the activity. Sometimes the best part of the first day of school is the sense of pride in successfully coping with a new situation.