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How to Ease Your Child’s Back-to-School Anxiety

While young children are incredibly adaptive and resilient, parents know some transitions, such as heading back to school, can be difficult for kids to manage – especially if they have been home for an extended period of time, like some of our friends this spring and summer. The good news is with a little bit of preparation, you can help ease your little one’s anxiety and set the stage for a smooth transition.

Set the tone for positivity.
Children look to their parents for behavioral cues, meaning your little one will follow your lead in terms of how you approach them returning to school. If you treat it like a dramatic, difficult occasion, that’s how they’ll see it, too. But if you set the tone for positivity, that will shape their perspective that going back to school is a natural, exciting thing to do – even if things look a little different in today’s environment.

Let your child know back-to-school time is approaching.
Talking openly with your child sooner rather than later about their return to school gives them time to get comfortable with the idea before they head back. It also gives your child an opportunity to express any concerns and your family time to work through them without the added pressure of a time crunch.

Help them understand what has changed at school since COVID-19.
While we have focused on ensuring The Malvern School continues to provide a nurturing, engaging and appropriate environment for young children during the pandemic, returning to school for the first time since COVID-19 will be a different experience for your child. Help them understand what will be different at school – and why – so they have an easier time adjusting. Even better, show them what some of these changes look like (for example, showing photos of drop-off stations and teachers and friends wearing masks).

Take time to attend your teacher meet and greet.
At The Malvern School, we have transformed our ‘Meet the Teacher’ nights into drive-through style events. While it’s a different format than years past due to health and wellness precautions, it’s still a great opportunity for you and your child to casually meet their teacher and can help ease back-to-school jitters.

Start adjusting your child’s sleep schedule.
If your child has been enjoying a less structured sleep schedule this summer, now is the time to get back on track. Gradually adjust bed time and wake up times to prepare for your school year schedule. It will be one less thing to worry about when school starts. Plus, ensuring your child is well-rested can go a long way in helping them adjust to change.

Rely on reading.
Back-to-school season is a great time to read (or revisit) books like Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney or The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. These books can open up conversation about how children may feel sad or nervous when they are apart from their families, but ultimately reassure them that they will be ok – and have lots of fun – on their new journeys!

Don’t forget your child’s teacher can help ease your child’s anxiety, too. Be sure to reach out and fill them in on any concerns so you can partner together and get the year off to a great start!

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