It's almost like a rite of passage...enjoying all the fun of summer and then dreading the return to school and school routine. Even children who enjoy school may lament over the loss of freedom and fun that summer brought. This can make getting psyched up for an awesome school year a bit tough.
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And it's particularly tough if your child just doesn't want to go to school at all, to the point that you fear it may not just be jitters or nerves. What can you do to make them feel secure and excited about a new school year?
Experts recommend that the most important part of a smooth transition back to school is establishing the routine a couple of weeks before school starts. Get back into the habit of living as if the next day was a school day so your child won't have the issue of being overtired when facing the new year. Establishing that routine before school has even started will help you and your child feel more secure about expectations of the days to come.
Another important way to help get to the root of your child's issue with school is to have conversations. Talk to them about what they don't like about school and what they are not looking forward to. My son enjoys the social aspect of school tremendously, but he is not a huge fan of the actual work (is any kid, really?). We discuss how there are give and takes in all situations, and I remind him about how his hard work pays off in being able to enjoy the time he gets with his school friends at recess, lunch and breaks, as well as play dates we can schedule after school.
When you are able to really address what your child is worried about, you can address it with real-world examples. ("When I was in school, I didn't love that part either, but here's how I handled it...") Consider getting books about returning to school or even journaling/drawing to give an outlet to the anxiety and dislikes.
While it's not uncommon to have a bit of disinterest when it comes to going back to school, experts also warn that parents really do need to be diligent about if there is a bigger issue at play. For children with learning disabilities, or prior bullying or negative situations that occurred in school, their anxiety about replays of previous years may just be in overdrive, and it's important to address that. Discussions with the child as well as her teacher can help alleviate those fears and drive home the concept of a new year bringing new experiences.
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But experts warn that if your child seems to be having more and more physical episodes of discomfort (recurring tummy aches or sore throats, etc.) or start excessive tantrums or withdrawing from activities they usually do enjoy, you might want to talk to a specialist about what else may be going on. The most important thing you want to do is address issues early on so that come November or December, your child has not spent months with the anxiety and concern weighing him or her down.
Talk with pediatric counselors or therapists about employing strategies to help your child overcome their anxieties.
If you are interested in more information about getting your child geared up for a great school year, you can check out First Day Ready by Understood to get more tips for the smoothest transitions.