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Back to School!

Every Fall, many children feel anxious about returning to school. This is completely normal.  For students who spent last year in remote or hybrid learning programs due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the traditional back to school anxiety may feel even more overwhelming.  Along with the typical anxieties of class schedules, teacher personalities, maintaining friendships, and wondering what to wear, children may also worry about wearing masks, new school safety protocols, and getting sick.  Although anxiety about returning to school is common it is important to recognize and address the signs and symptoms.  Children may not always be able to put their feelings into words.  Here are a few behavioral clues to look for:

  1. Easily upset or angry

  2. Difficulty concentrating and staying focused.

  3. May be more clingy

  4. May be restless or fidgety

  5. Changes in sleeping or eating habits

  6. Complaints of stomachaches

  7. Diarrhea or constipation

If left unaddressed anxiety can lead to difficulties in school performance as well as an overall decrease in a child’s quality of life.  There are many things you can do to help your child manage their feelings of anxiety.    Here are some things to try:

  1. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings.

  2. Show love and care. Hug your child often.

  3. Prepare your home for back to school by establishing a routine – bedtime, dinnertime, homework time.

  4. Remind your child of the good things about school – friends, favorite teachers, learning new things.

  5. Use Grounding Techniques – have them identify things using the five senses. What do they see, hear, smell, taste, touch?

  6. Give opportunities to burn off steam – exercise, sports, dance, yoga, music, reading, art, journaling.

  7. Time with pets can be a great stress relief.

  8. Establish a healthy lifestyle by adding theses stress busting foods – spinach, salmon, cashews, avocado, and dark chocolate.

  9. Remind them that they are not alone. Many children experience stress and anxiety.

Remember each child is different and what works for one may not work for another.  Keep trying until you find what works best for your child.  If symptoms last more than two weeks and are effecting your child’s quality of life seek help from a professional social worker or therapist.

Written by Dena Balicki, LMSW School Social Worker New Directions’ Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School

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