Tips for Handling Back-to-School Jitters with Kindergarten and Elementary Students

Friday, August 15, 2014 6:37 AM comments (0)


Nervousness on the first day of school is perfectly normal both for parents and young students. New routines, new people, new information: it’s a time of transition. But “transition” doesn’t have to be a bad word. 

Nancy Zinaman, LCSW, shares some simple back-to-school preparation tips that will make the first day easier on the entire family:

For kindergartners try not to make the first day over emotional. If parents are anxious they need to be aware of their own feelings so as not to make their children more nervous.

Children who have made a smooth transition into preschool may have a harder time transitioning into Kindergarten. You can help make this transition easier by playing on the school playground with your child before classes begin. Visit the school when it is empty or schedule a tour. If time allows, visit or arrange a one-on-one meeting with the teacher and staff. Familiar faces and places will make the first day so much easier.

For children with special needs it’s important for parents to connect with teachers prior to the first day of class to make sure they are aware of separation anxiety, ADHD or any other family challenges

Find out the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher. Ask your child’s teacher what he or she would prefer: email, phone, etc. This will foster a positive, productive relationship from the start. 

Prepare for the new routine early. Don’t wait until the first day to start implementing your new routine. Put the school day structure in place one or two weeks before: establish a back-to-school bedtime; get up early; give kids a fun school-day task like packing their own lunch or backpack. Don’t over-schedule after school activities the first couple of weeks because your children will be tired after a long day of school.

Talk to your children. Find out how your children really feel about starting a new school year. Is there something in particular that is causing nervousness or dread? Give yourself time to address it or talk to the school about it if it’s something the school can address. Let your children know their feelings are normal and that they are not alone.

How does your family prepare for the first day of school?


How to Talk to Your Children About Tragic Events

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:47 PM comments (0)

childrenAll parents hope to shield their children from the knowledge that bad things happen in the world for as long as possible. Unfortunately, protecting your children from this knowlege isn't possible forever.  Frequently, children learn about violent and tragic events from their friends as well as from television. These tragedies can confuse and frighten children if they don’t think they can discuss them openly. Limiting exposure to the news may be helpful; however, parents can do so much more to help their children feel safe and secure.

What and how much do you say to children? How do you know they want or need to talk? How can you get them to open up to you about their fears? Dr. Robert Farra, PhD, recommends that parents:

  • Watch children closely. Some children, especially younger children, might not express their anxieties with words but might exhibit signs of anxiety or worry like changes in behavior, sleep and appetite.
  • Allow them to ask the questions. By allowing them to ask the questions, children will move at a pace and level of discussion that is comfortable for them. It will also be an indicator to you of how much they need or are developmentally prepared to know.
  • Encourage kids to write or draw their feelings. For some children talking about their feelings might not come easily. Children might be more comfortable writing down or drawing pictures that express their feelings. You can communicate through the work they produce. 
  • Provide as much comfort as possible. Let children know that they are safe both with words and your behavior. Children look to parents and authority figures for cues on how to react to a situation. If you are upset, it is okay to show your own emotions. Make sure to process and seek support for your own feelings so that you can better provide comfort to your children. Also remind them that there are police, firefighters and other adults keeping them safe too.
  • Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." You won’t have all the answers. Just like children, adults experience confusion and fear in the wake of a traumatic event. By saying, “I don’t know,” you are telling your children that it is okay to be confused because you are too.

How do you discuss difficult topics with your children?

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