A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Mom seeing daughter off to school

7 Tips to Calm Back-to-School Jitters

Be it kindergarten, middle school, or high school, the start of school can cause jittery feelings in our kids. I have seen it in my own kids and in kids I see in my office.

They have a certain edginess in the last weeks of summer induced by a mix of excitement and nerves.

How can we help?

  1. Talk. Kids of all ages do well when they can talk through what’s coming up. Talk with a child headed to the first day of kindergarten to help them understand what it will be like. Ask your older kids how they feel about going back to school. Acknowledge that they may be feeling nervous to start junior high or high school. Give them a chance to ask questions. You can tell them what you remember about your school days—but it’s best to keep it positive!
  2. Practice. No matter which school year they’re starting, kids can benefit from practice! If they’re starting middle school, head over to school with their schedule and practice walking from class to class. If they’re given a locker, practice opening a combination lock at home—do this together until it’s easy for them. For an elementary school child, simply walking through the school to see where they’ll eat lunch and have recess can help calm their jitters and make it all seem more fun. For all kids, practice walking, biking, or driving their route to school.
  3. Visualize. A very nervous child may benefit from visualizing the school days coming up. Have them sit with their eyes closed, take a few slow, deep breaths, and then picture themselves enjoying school. Maybe they can see themselves saying hi to a new friend or enjoying recess with old ones.
  4. Prepare. It can be hard to know all the back to school supplies until you get lists from their teachers. However, pulling out your leftover supplies, organizing them, and going out to pick up a few new things can make it more fun!
  5. Remind. Talking about positive experiences can help reassure your child. Ask what went well the year before? Are there friends they haven’t seen all summer who will be fun to connect with on the first day?
  6. Act early. Was last year rough? Then talk with your child about how you’ll help make this year better. Start early by scheduling meetings with teachers and counselors to set a positive tone for a new year. Volunteer to help out in your child’s school or classroom. Remind your child that no matter what you’re there for them at the end of every day.
  7. Connect. Before that first day comes around, arrange to have your child spend time with other kids in their class. Arrange an afternoon at the park with a group in the same kindergarten class. Take a group of your upcoming seventh grader’s friends on an end of summer adventure, maybe to the pool or movies! Ask if they want to include some new friends?

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This article was originally published on August 21, 2017.

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