Does your child have anxiety about the first day of school?
All of my children have always had a bit of anxiety going back to school after a fun filled summer, but they grew out of it as they matured, however it is a little different for my youngest child. Every year she begins to worry about her next year even when school has just ended. Just before the summer break ends, she becomes very anxious even having trouble sleeping and eating, worried about her new teacher and class mates.
We saw this begin in preschool when she knew all the kids and all the teachers but it didn’t seem to give her any comfort. One week out of the summer usually at the end of July she would have terrible meltdowns.
When she started Elementary school, we felt that the multiage program (a school within a school) would be the best thing for her for many reasons. First it allows the children to stay in two grades with the same teacher. Kindergarten and first grade are with one teacher and second and third grades are spent with another teacher. It is only because of the overwhelming state requirements now put on both teachers and children, that one teacher cannot cover everything for fourth and fifth so when the child goes to fourth grade they are then put back into the normal mainstream of the school.
Another advantage of the multiage program is that children with later birthdays (my daughter is born in December) are not always the oldest in the classroom. One year they are considered the “younger”, learning from the older children and the next year they are the “Olders” and teach the younger children. This allows them to work on many issues being a new child learning the routine and then being able to teach the routine the next year. It gets the year off to a running start because there is no learning curve as to what the classroom routine is.
It also reinforces the school work. If the child can understand at the initial grade level then they are that much further along, the second year just reinforces the lesson and allows the teacher to teach a little bit more. But if the lesson wasn’t understood the first year, by the second year the child has mastered it.
Multiage worked well for us but we still had a small amount of anxiety even going back to the same class. This year my daughter will begin fourth grade and she has been very vocal in telling me that she is very concerned about school starting next week. As a parent, I always try my best to reassure her, reminding her of how she felt in prior years and how well it went-an “A” student in fact. I make sure that we spend time during the summer going over a few lessons so that her fear of going back to school and haven forgotten everything is unwarranted. I reassure her that I will be there to help her with homework every night and if we ever needed to get a tutor we would take that approach too.
Low Self Esteem
But then it comes to friends. “What if no one likes me?” she asks. All I can do is to remind her of her good qualities and her activities such as Cheerleading and Dance and that it seems to me that she worries, but makes friends easily.
What else can you do for a child that is just anxious about school? I try to take every unknown out of the equation. Once school begins, I even speak with the teacher and give a heads up without being “that” overbearing parent.
Tonite she told me again that she was worried about school beginning. I told her to remember to have faith. We prayed our bedtime prayer and she fell asleep almost instantly. Seems like it was only yesterday when I had to take her to class kicking and screaming and now with a little maturity, she is able to tell me that she is worried. That is some progress.