ABC's of Back To School: School Anxiety

August 7, 2008 9:52:05 AM PDT
Find out how to help ease your child's fears about going back to school. Tamara O'Shaughnessy, editor of Chicago Parent, shares some tips for parents to help their kids navigate making friends, tackling tests confidently and, for the little ones, separation from home.

Kindergarten through second grade

  • Prepare your child before the first day
    • Visit the school, checkout their classroom
    • Plan a fun after-school activity to let them know they won't be at school forever
  • Ask older neighborhood children to share their fun stories about the school
  • Don't cry when you say goodbye.
Third through fifth grade
  • With increasing academic pressures, help your child feel better prepared to multi-task.
    • Buy personal organizers (expandable folders work especially great), calendar planners, assign each subject a color and match book cover colors to notebooks and folders, give them a place that's theirs to work
    • Teach them how to break big projects into small pieces to make projects more manageable.
  • Learn relaxation techniques together to help them on test days, for class presentations and other situations that cause anxiety
  • Help them identify their interests (art, theater, athletics for instance) and find extra-curricular activities to help them meet more kids who share those interests.
Sixth through eighth grade
  • Building self-esteem in these years is vital. And especially for girls, appearance is everything. Ask them how they want to look, what kind of statement they want to make this year rather than just simply fitting in.
  • Talk about risky behaviors like smoking, drinking, drugs and sex.
    • Role play responses to peer pressure and give them a way out.
    • Share your family's values and make sure they know they can always come to you with anything.
  • Allow them to decide what they excel at and help them opportunities to continue developing those skills.
For more information visit www.chicagoparent.com.


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