The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Avoiding Back-to-School Stress

August 5, 2013

Child Experiencing StressHeading back to school at summer’s end can sometimes elicit a stress response, and not just for the kids. School schedules can upend a parent’s routine as well.

However, this seasonal transition can be smooth sailing with some planning, time management and a little mental preparation.

Here are some tips to avoid back-to-school stress and ease into the new school year:

Back-to-school shopping: Start as early as you can. Malls and online stores have back-to-school supplies and clothes available well before school begins. For good time management, set a time limit on shopping. Buying your child’s school supplies in advance helps you avoid the back-to-school stress of packed store parking lots, long lines or sparse options to choose from.

Thoughtful planning: Getting the kids off to school for that first morning of school can be stressful for households with multiple young children. However, with some planning, stress can be kept to a minimum. Start the night before by laying out school clothes, filling backpacks with the requisite supplies, and planning breakfast. For bedtimes, it’s best to adjust summer’s “rise late” schedule to school time’s “early rising” schedule a couple of weeks in advance.

Taming the jitters: If it’s your child’s first day of preschool, kindergarten or first grade, he or she may be facing fear and anxiety about the unknown. Even older kids making transitions to middle or high school may have trepidation about their new surroundings. As with any life change, keep communication channels open, experts say. Encourage kids of any age to talk about their fears regarding school. Listen to their concerns, offer feedback and tell stories of your own school experiences to show that you were a kid once, too, and survived.

Where’s my ride? Simple as it sounds, there needs to be a plan for getting the children to school, especially if parents are also getting ready to go to work. Planning becomes paramount so write it all down and post names, time and modes of transport that may be required. Some households may need to track school bus schedules as well as carpooling arrangements for the adults. By knowing your plan before the first day of classes, everyone in your family will benefit.

Keep the school informed: Be sure to convey to your child’s school any important information concerning your child, including emergency contact numbers. Also convey pertinent information or updates about your child’s health, family dynamics and any learning challenges. It’s best to do this before your child heads back to school for their first day.

Think you’ve planned for every back-to-school contingency? What if a child still misses the bus or loses a backpack? Don’t despair. There’s always next year!

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