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Back to School Blues - How to transition from one year to the next

  • Written by Elizabeth McAninch, Language Arts Teacher, Dartmoor School

As backyard barbeques, family vacations and the long days of summer begin to wind down, families everywhere are preparing for the inevitable excitement and anxiety of returning to school.

For some, this means new supplies, new clothing and new possibilities for the year. For others, however, this means what has come to be known as "the back to school blues."

Parents scramble to get last minute items on their child’s school supply list, children begin to stress over new classes and new teachers, and everyone laments the finale of days of freedom and sleeping in.

While we often disregard this phenomenon, we should not take these feelings of anxiety lightly. According to APA psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD, "The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents and children. While trying to manage work and the household, parents can sometimes overlook their children’s feelings of nervousness or anxiety as school begins."

Change is always a difficult thing, but there are some ways we can deal with this anxiety we may feel. Making the transition together can help. Setting up a routine that works smoothly can make busy mornings easier and put our body clocks back on a normal schedule. A routine can also help us to avoid exhaustion and disorganization. 

Organization can also help us transition with ease. Having a place for all of our anticipated materials from classes can enhance our focus as well as our productivity. An organized workplace at home can carry over into how we handle our school work and we can prepare by setting this workplace up prior to the beginning of school. If children have an organized place to work at home they will feel more confident about the work that is being given to them at school.  

If children are hesitant to return to school, discuss the positive aspects of school a child will appreciate, such as meeting new people and learning new things.

Lastly, reach out to your teacher before school and begin forming a positive relationship. Creating this comfortable environment will make returning to school fun and an event that we begin to anticipate.

The end of a fun, event-filled summer can create a sense of dread for the return of homework, difficult classes and new teachers but battling the back to school blues is simple if parents and children work together. Keeping communication open and organization essential will help to develop a routine to help us adjust with as much ease as possible.  

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