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Calming Nerves as Students Start the School Year

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The new school year can be a very exciting time for children and parents. However, for many children, it also can cause some anxiety, especially if they are going to a new school or haven’t been in person for a while.

The San Diego County of Office of Education (SDCOE) is committed to supporting school districts, schools, students, and families to improve their mental and emotional health and well-being. Our student wellness team works closely with school staff across San Diego County to ensure tools and resources are available to youth. We've compiled resources and information to help education professionals and families.

Following are some tips to ease anxiety from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center:

  • A week or two before school, start preparing children for the upcoming transition by getting back to school-year routines, such as a realistic bedtime and selecting tomorrow's clothes.
  • Arrange play dates with one or more familiar peers before school starts. Research shows that the presence of a familiar peer during school transitions can improve children's academic and emotional adjustment.
  • Visit the school before the school year begins, rehearse the drop-off, and spend time on the playground or inside the classroom if the building is open. Have your child practice walking into class while you wait outside or down the hall.
  • Come up with a prize or a rewarding activity that your child could earn for separating from you to attend school.
  • Validate their worry by acknowledging that, like any new activity, starting school can be hard but soon becomes easy and fun.

Returning to school can also be stressful for older students. Check out SDCOE’s Teen Guide to Mental Health and Wellness in English or Spanish for five wellness tips for teens.

For additional ideas and information, explore the following resources from SDCOE and other organizations. Hopefully, they can help make the transition to the new school year smooth. Don’t forget to talk to your child’s teacher or principal if you still have concerns.

Resources to Help Your Child

General Wellness Resources

Video

When Back to School Anxiety Lingers

Description: UCLA Center for Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES) Director Dr. John Piacentini and CARES Clinical Psychology Fellow Dr. Diana Santacrose talk about the feelings of fear and anxiety that often come up around back to school and how parents can recognize them.


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