Back to School Blues: Making the Transition Easier by Emily Hasselquist, LCSW

The beginning of a new school year is always exciting. But while the idea of shopping for school supplies and a first day outfit are fun for many children, some struggle with starting a new year. As the first day approaches, some children become can become anxious or moody.  As a school social worker for the past 8 years, I too have a tough time getting back into a routine! While I absolutely love my job, I’ve also experienced the “back to school blues.”  Many teachers would agree with me that even as an adult it can be stressful thinking about setting that alarm the night before the first day. Below are some tips for making the transition back to school easier.

Ease Worries

Talk about school early on and don’t hesitate to ask your child what their fears are–many of them you may be able to easily clear up.  Normalize their worries by letting them know that lots of kids get nervous about going back to school. Take advantage of transition camps or open house days for students to visit prior to the start of the year. I often have parents contact me to plan a time for their student to visit the school prior to the first day.  This can ease some of their worries about the unfamiliarity of a new building or classroom. Share any anxieties your child has early on with their teachers.  Knowing what insecurities your child is having can help teachers know in what situations they may need some extra support.

Make Adjustments Early

Children of all ages benefit from preparing to return to school a couple weeks beforehand.  Get your child (and yourself!) back on a schedule by adjusting wake up and bedtimes and developing daily routines.  Organize a space in the house where homework is be expected to be done.  These are just a couple ways to get your child and their environment ready to start the year in a productive way.

Set Expectations

Establishing rules before the start of the school year will be helpful.  What kind of grades do you expect your child to maintain?  How much time should be spent on homework versus electronic devices? How many hours are they allowed to work if they have a part time job?  Rules regarding curfews, part time jobs, electronics, academic expectations, and household chores should all be understood before the start of the school year.

Some children’s back to school blues go beyond the normal worrying.  If your child begins to withdraw, their moods are fluctuating or they have physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches, you may want to contact your school’s social worker or guidance counselor.  The staff at Gurnee Counseling can also help with any concerns you have.  Contact us at (847) 336-5621 for more information.