5 Tips for Preventing First-Day Jitters

By Beth Margolin

Starting a new school year can be exciting—but it also can be stressful, particularly for kids who have learning disabilities or ADHD and have struggled in academic settings in the past. Here are five ways to minimize those first-day jitters and start the new school year off right:

  1. Don’t over-promise: Every school year I feel the need to talk up how this year will be the best one yet in order to spark some excitement and reduce anxiety in my child. Don’t do it. Each year is a bit more challenging, so it’s better to remind your child how he overcame certain difficulties last year, and discuss upcoming hurdles as challenges you can work through together.
  2. Check out the school and the teacher: Along with your child, visit her school a few days before the semester begins to do a walk-through. Go to her classroom and acquaint (or reacquaint) her with the  building. Perhaps you can even schedule a five-minute meet-and-greet with her new teacher. Seeing the school and her classroom beforehand will help prepare her mentally and eliminate some of that first-day stress.
  3. Speak with the teacher: Don’t let your child be a learning disability on a piece of paper. Get together with his teacher as soon as school begins, and share with her the things that have worked and not worked for your child in the past. The teacher may already know that he shouldn’t read out loud, but tell her how much he loves to share his vast knowledge in science or art.
  4. Find a friend: Get on the mommy hotline to see if you can find out who is in your child’s class. One friendly face, even if it’s not a great pal, can help reduce the anxiety of walking into a new situation.
  5. Build in free time: With more homework, sports, religious school, music practice, and tutors, it’s easy to over-schedule your child. Make sure you set aside a few hours a week to do nothing. She may use that time to talk with you about what’s going on at school, so you can continue to be there to support her.