World Academy Back to School Welcome Blog
Sep 02, 2014
“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.”
-- Rose Kennedy
A fresh, new school year is upon us and we couldn’t be more excited. To our returning children, we say, “Welcome Back”! And to our new students, we warmly say, “Welcome to our World”!
Whether students are coming back or starting new, the beginning of a new school year often comes with a dose of different anxieties. New teachers, new classrooms, new routines, new faces and the prospect of making new friends can be at the root of various anxieties for students...and sometimes parents too!
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that up to 25% of children between the ages of 13-18 experience some level of anxiety, so it’s perfectly normal for children to have anxious feelings, or feelings of worry, when a situation is new or unfamiliar. Understanding how to help our families minimize anxiety during this exciting time of year is a priority for us.
Last week, as part of our back-to-school “In Service” day, our teachers and staff participated in a workshop based on the book Anxious Parents, Anxious Students by Lynn Lyons, LICSW, an expert in childhood anxiety with over 20 years experience. At World Academy, we’re committed to providing on-going education and training for our teachers and staff. It’s important that we share a level of understanding so we can serve as a resource to families who have children experiencing any degree of anxiety during the school year.
Here are just a few take-aways from this year’s presentation, including tips from Lyons’ book about 7 things parents can do at home to help children manage anxiety:
- 1. Pay attention to your child’s feelings.
- 2. Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.
- 3. Recognize and praise small accomplishments.
- 4. Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.
- 5. Be flexible and try to maintain a normal routine.
- 6. Modify expectations during stressful periods.
- 7. Plan for transitions (For example, allow extra time in the morning if getting to school is difficult).
Communication is key. Talk with your child about the new desk they will be sitting at, then the classroom, etc. Avoid talking about big concepts such as the new “huge” building they will be going to. When you get to school, tackle each step one at a time, talk through getting out of the car, going into the building, finding the classroom, finding his/her desk or cubby. Breaking a big concept like “going to school” down into little tasks will make it seem not as scary.
Talking to your children about the new school year is the most effective and healthy way to deal with 99% of their anxiety (and yours). We are looking forward to an amazing 2014/15 school year together. Cheers to a great year!