Easing Back-to-School Anxiety for Older Kids

Elementary-school age kids aren’t the only ones who experience back-to-school jitters. As reported in an Education Week post, a high-school teacher asked her students what their greatest concerns were. Here’s what they said, along with some advice for managing their worries:

  1. Getting lost. Remember when your child was starting elementary school and you took him on a campus tour and introduced him to his teacher before school started? It turns out students new to a school at any level are concerned that they won’t find their way around. Some schools offer guided tours with faculty, staff, or student mentors, but if yours doesn’t, you should make arrangements for you and your child to visit the new facility before day one.
  2. Hard or mean teachers. Again, for the same reasons you met the elementary teachers before school started, an early introduction to some of your middle or high school teachers can assuage fears that they’re going to be too tough. When visiting with a new teacher have your child ask about the workload, course assignments, and grading policies. Also encourage her to find out how to access her teachers’ help outside of class.
  3. Unfamiliar technology. When visiting with the teacher learn what technologies will be required. While many kids are tech savvy and can find their way around social media, they may not be familiar with the educational technology used at this school, including hardware and software. If necessary, make an appointment with the person in charge of technology to learn more and to talk about how your child can learn the new tools. For students with learning disabilities who are comfortable with certain Assistive Technologies, this is the time to discuss those options and how to ensure continued access.
  4. Making Friends. Feeling socially insecure in a new environment is to be expected. Many schools provide incoming new students with meet-and-greet activities to break the ice. Other ways to get involved are joining extra-curricular activities such as sports, chorus, science club, etc. This is an area for you to keep a close tab on to ensure that your child is finding his place in the new school. If you suspect problems, act quickly to address them. You can start by meeting with his teachers and counselor.

Starting a new school is daunting at any age, but you can help ease your child’s fears by being proactive before the first bell of the new semester.