Ever since the pandemic started, children and parents have been required to stay inside the house. Due to this, kids have limited chances to interact with their peers. This situation makes it more difficult for preschoolers to prepare for formal classes. Read on to discover tips on managing back to school anxiety.
What is back to school anxiety?
Aside from the motor and formal skills included in readiness for kindergarten checklists, parents must also ensure that their children feel excited about going to school. Most kids, especially during this pandemic, experience back-to-school anxiety, preventing them from interacting with other children and participating in class.
Back-to-school anxiety causes children to become nervous over a normal activity, such as entering a classroom filled with their peers. Often, it also entails being tense around teachers or school personnel, since kids associate them with on-site learning. This condition also affects parents, especially when they see their children crying when left inside a classroom.
What causes back-to-school anxiety?
Back to school anxiety has various causes. For instance, going back to school during covid contributes to a child’s anxiety due to the prolonged absence from social events. Before the pandemic, children play with their peers before entering kindergarten. Unfortunately, this health crisis allows kids to interact with immediate family members only.
Moreover, kids often feel unsafe in new environments, and school is one of them. Hence, they may experience overwhelming emotions the moment they step inside a classroom with unfamiliar faces. It’s also stressful for them to be separated from their parents during the first day of school.
What are the behaviors of a child anxious about school?
It’s important to observe your child’s behavior every time someone mentions school or class. An anxious child will always ask for assurance and raise worrying questions about teachers, classmates, and anything associated with the school. One of the most obvious responses is avoiding classroom-related topics and even school itself.
Back to school anxiety for kids can also cause frequent physical complaints whenever school is mentioned. They may complain about stomach aches, headaches, as well as mental and physical fatigue. Some children also experience sleep issues, preventing them from getting quality rest during nighttime. Hence, it’s crucial to help your child overcome this condition.
How to help a child with anxiety about school?
Read books and other learning materials
One way to prepare children for school-related activities is by exposing them to books and other learning materials. Encourage them to discover interesting facts about the world. You can also introduce them to stories about kids inside a classroom. This approach paints a good picture of school, teachers, and classmates.
Communicate with a teacher
Most preschools hold meet-and-greets, allowing children, teachers, and parents to know each other before the first day of school. Remember to practice health protocols whenever you attend an open house or similar events. You can also opt for virtual meetings, if any, to minimize outside exposure.
Organize play dates before classes start
It’s advisable to schedule play dates with other classmates so your kids can consider them as friends, even before classes start. This strategy also helps other families in preparing for the first day of school. You can set up a buddy system, so your child can have a constant playmate.
Reenact on-site classes
You can also integrate learning into playtime by reenacting how on-site classes work. For instance, consider stuffed animals or dolls as classmates. Some teddy bears will stay with your child, while others will go with you outside. This way, you can help your kid prepare for school.
Visit the school before classes
It’s advisable to tell your child about his or her future school. This approach familiarizes children with their second home. You can inform children about a kindergarten by touring them around the place. Talk about the interesting activities they can do inside the classroom, like playing instruments, drawing, and painting.
Acknowledge children’s feelings
Listen to your kid’s worries instead of dismissing them. This attitude encourages children to open up about their thoughts and feelings. In turn, you can guide them in managing negative emotions. It also builds their confidence in talking about things that bother them without fear of judgment.
Say encouraging words
Shower children with affirmations instead of criticizing them. You may be excited for the first day of school, but what’s more important is your child’s feelings about it. Ease kids’ nervousness by assuring them that a school is a happy place where they can play with other children and learn exciting things.
Bring favorite toy
One of the things that can calm your child’s anxiety is his or her favorite toy. Remind your kid to bring a doll, teddy bear, or another object that can provide a sense of security. These things can distract kids from their fear of unfamiliar places like schools and classrooms.
Opt for positive reinforcement
Gifts and treats motivate children, so it’s helpful to provide positive reinforcement whenever they show enthusiasm about school. You can also praise them whenever they initiate a positive behavior toward the first day of school.
Refrain from making comparisons
Some kids may experience feelings of excitement before the first day of school, but it should not compel you to make comparisons. Accept that every kid is different instead of forcing your child to be enthusiastic about kindergarten.
Consult a specialist
You may also consider consulting a pediatrician or mental health professional when separation problems persist. Should you notice frequent headaches, stomach aches, and bodily pain, it’s time to communicate with a specialist who can evaluate your child’s condition and help manage or treat symptoms.
The first day of class usually makes children feel nervous and anxious, preventing them from interacting with their peers and learning from their teachers. Moreover, socializing after the pandemic became more challenging even for kids. Fortunately, you can follow the above-mentioned tips to help your child with this big transition. Don’t forget to check out Rayito de Sol’s blog for more information about early childhood education.