What if my friends aren’t in my class? What if my teacher is mean? What if middle school is as scary as I think it is? How am I going to manage the 7th grade? Will I have enough time to get to my locker and class?
By August, the thought of heading back to school is ever-present and often complicated. Some students,teachers, and parents are ready to get back into a routine and looking forward to all of the things that autumn brings: football, cooler weather, and pumpkin spice everything. For many though, as the end of summer steadily approaches, so too does back to school anxiety.
Signs and Symptoms
Feeling some anxiety about an impending change is normal for people of all ages. In fact, functional anxiety can motivate us to do things to overcome perceived obstacles. Worried about a big test? Study. Feeling nervous about a public speaking engagement? Practice. Typical feelings of anxiety can have beneficial outcomes. When anxiety becomes pervasive and severe, however, it can be a sign of a generalized anxiety disorder, which often presents itself between 6 and 12 years of age. Studies show that 1 in four teenagers meets the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder.
Determining whether or not your student’s anxiety falls within the realm of being functional versus being more persistent can be challenging. Normal anxiety has triggers which are usually predictable. As mentioned above, a big test or a public speaking engagement can trigger anxiety in many people, as can the thought of heading back to school. When anxiety is triggered by everyday activities such as leaving the house or interacting with a friend and is excessive and/or debilitating, it may be more than functional anxiety. If you have concerns about your child’s anxiety level it is advisable to discuss this with their primary care physician.
What You Can Do at Home
There are a number of things that parents and family members can do to help students prepare to cope with the normal anxiety that often accompanies the transition to the new school year:
Practice, Practice, Practice
Begin your school year morning routine one or two weeks before school starts. That will give
you an opportunity, as a family, to iron out any wrinkles before it’s actually ‘go time’.
Talk it Out
Have meaningful conversations with your student about how they are feeling. Don’t offer
reassurance that everything will be fine, rather talk through their fears and help them explore opportunities to overcome whatever obstacles they perceive as being in their way as they begin
a new year.
Back to Basics
No one is at their best when they are hangry. Or tired. This goes for children and adults alike.
Make sure your student is getting enough rest and sustenance each day.
Shift the Focus
Talk with your student about the excitement of school! It’s so easy to lose sight of all of the fun things your student may anticipate about school amidst the fears and worry. Remind your
student how much they enjoy math, spending time with their friends, recess. Ask them what
they are most looking forward to and focus on that.
Once the school year has gotten underway and your student is on more solid footing, be sure to
celebrate their successful transition and to use this as a teachable moment for future anxiety
How Planting Seeds Tutoring Can Help
At Planting Seeds Tutoring, our mission is to empower students to become passionate about their education by providing a positive environment that allows them to master the skills needed to become successful independent lifelong learners.
We also see this as an opportunity to provide mentoring, leadership and guidance to students of all ages. We aim to provide educational assistance along with personal development by inspiring academic excellence, cultivating character, and commitment. Providing students with this foundation and with these tools empowers them with confidence and grit to overcome obstacles, like the beginning of a new school year.
Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring
To find out more about the full range of services offered at Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, Dallas, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, you can visit our blog, our website, or follow us on Facebook.