How to Help Kids Cope with their Fear of Going Back to School

It’s that time of year again- shopping lists, final vacations, and soaking up the last of the summer sun. Back to School: a joy for some, and a significant challenge for others. We can help our kids overcome their fear of heading back to the classroom for another year with a few simple tips and tricks!

ASK about their fears

It seems like a silly thing, but it’s incredibly easy to assume what’s going on when a child is fearful of going back to school. And although we often have their best interest at heart, as adults we can forget what it’s really like to go back to school in the fall. Instead of coming to your own conclusions about why your child might be having reservations about returning, ASK THEM. Giving your child autonomy over their concerns can help them work through issues and gives you insight into exactly what’s going on. It’s also important to show your child that you care about what’s bothering them, and will be there to help problem solve if they need it. Communication is always key!

Problem Solving

You can definitely be part of the solution! Showing your child you care by asking what’s going on is important, but it’s only a first step in working towards helping them feel comfortable and confident returning to the classroom. Are they worried about a bully? Perhaps they struggle academically? These are issues that children shouldn’t be expected to manage independently. Consider connecting with their teacher and filling them in, or looking into a tutor to support the academic needs of your child. It’s important to remember that you are acting on behalf of your child so consulting them in the problem solving is critical. We always want our kids to feel like we have their best interest at heart!

Find something fun

Helping your child look forward to something at school can significantly reduce stress around going back! Is there a BOKS program running at your child’s school? It’s a great way to increase their physical activity, set them up for a day of learning, and give them a chance to play with friends before school! Looking into programs that your child’s school runs is a great way to find fun ways to engage your kid in the larger school community! No programs running at the school? No problem! Ask your administrative team about starting one! BOKS is completely free for schools, and only takes some committed volunteers to run the programming! You can learn more about becoming a volunteer here: https://www.bokskids.ca/

Make a plan

As much as we love our kids, we can’t be with them all day every day at school! Making an action plan with your child can be very reassuring for both kids and parents when things don’t go as planned. Send them with your phone numbers so they can reach you during the day if need be. Practice some conversations with them, like mediating an issue with a peer. Go through trusted adults in the school that they can go to if they feel like they need support. Finally, help them develop some strategies at home that they can use anywhere to reduce stress. Things like deep breathing or taking some quiet space are strategies kids can use independently and are very effective coping methods!

Back-to-school can be a difficult and even fearful time of year for many kids, for many different reasons. It’s important to meet your child where they’re at and help them find reasons to look forward to the upcoming school year! Hopefully these tips and tricks can help to eliminate some of the negative feelings towards going back to the classroom and help you and your child find something to look forward to this fall!

Lauren Hutchison

Regional Coordinator, Western Canada, BOKS Canada