Going back to the classroom can be stressful for children and parents each school year.
When children are experiencing new situations, such as beginning school for the first time or entering a new school, it’s normal for them to experience anxiety. Dr. Glen Aylward, clinical psychologist at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says children often have difficulty with the shift in routine.
“... if this is the first time the child is going to school, it is a whole new adjustment. Or if the child is going to a new school, there are a lot of adjustments going on in that there are changes in the schedule and demands for doing homework. If there were previous issues such as ongoing problems or social issues in the school the previous year, this kind of re-awakens those.”
To help children adjust to the changes, Aylward advises parents to increase the child’s familiarity with the new situation prior to school starting. He suggests taking them to see the new school and meet the teacher, if possible. He offers several other suggestions:
“... start ahead of time in terms of re-adjusting schedules. That includes when you are going to bed, when you are getting up, having a little more structure in school and so on I mean at home and so on. ... Basically the parents need to take a positive approach and sell the good parts about school for the child, so the child has more of an optimistic view.”
If the child’s anxiety continues and causes a major negative impact on family interactions, parents should consult a school counselor, psychologist or their family physician. The child may be referred to a mental health professional.