Monday, August 15, 2022

Feelings about starting school

The first time going to school or starting a new grade can be exciting. It is a special time filled with the smell of fresh school supplies and the anticipation of a new classroom. There is also a little anxiety and a great way to diffuse these feelings is to remind the child that they are not alone. Reading a book about starting school / a new grade or a poem can help children feel less alone and anxious. 
It is normal for children to express their feelings of sadness and learning how to address those feelings helps them to build self-confidence and independence. Assisting with problems will help students learn and grow in a positive way from the stress. The change in routine can be tough for some students and the fear of the unknown can be stressful. Students who can not clearly articulate their feelings might feel overwhelmed.

What do children get most anxious about when it comes to starting or returning to school? Children can get anxious about lots of different things from missing their summer friends to taking the bus and not having the right supplies for school.  Being away from parents and about the unknown is also common. They may worry about making new friends, big kids and getting to know a new teacher. What appears to be rather simple activities such as eating lunch can cause anxiety when they are not familiar with the environment. 

Children may have stomachs in the morning before school or in the evening before going to bed. Changes in behavior or attitude may appear and the child may not be able to say what might be causing them to feel anxiety or stress. Children may become more argumentative or ask more questions. These questions may be unrelated to school, making it more difficult to pinpoint the underlying stress and anxiety related to starting school or returning to school.

After a couple of weeks of school, children usually feel less nervous and more comfortable with the school routine. If the student's anxiety appears to be worsening or lasts for several weeks, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Letting your students know what will happen next is a great way to build that important trust.  Schools can communicate with parents so that they have knowledge about what is going to happen during the first weeks. Helping your students to express their feelings will help them to perform better in school and display fewer behavioral problems. Look for worksheets and activities to help students express their feelings. Nothing is more important than helping your students feel safe in your environment.

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