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Archive for the ‘School Anxiety in Children and Youth’ Category

Top 10 Ways Elementary-Age Children Transition Back to School

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Top 10 List

About this time of year conversations among parents of school-age children begin to change. Talk turns from summer camp to school-ready bedtime rituals, mosquito repellant to earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for swimsuits to shopping for school supplies.

Not to be outdone, we here at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate this article to:

Top 10 Ways

Parents Can Smooth The Elementary Child’s Transition From Summer to Fall

Enjoy and share with a friend!

  1. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour. School summer hours are usually posted online and office personnel are happy to show you and your child around.

  2. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and which food groups are allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV). Don’t be the parent who packs cupcakes and peanuts if those foods are forbidden.

  3. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare and pack extra water, especially if the commute is long and the heat is extreme.

  4. Create your list of emergency contacts and share that list with your child. It’s good for your child to know who may pick him up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list. Create a password only you, your child, and the designated contact will know for added safety.

  5. While you are picking up school supplies, remember that your child will probably get additional lists from teachers the first day of school. Don’t get stressed; budget accordingly.

  6. Discuss ‘phones at bedtime’ rules before the first day of school. Believe it or not your child does NOT need her phone for an alarm clock. If you plan to make your child leave her phone in the kitchen at bedtime, introduce the idea now so she doesn’t have to go cold turkey the night before her first day of school.

  7. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms still have rules about school clothes.

  8. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas. For a young child, lunchtime is an exciting break during the day and can be a bit of comfort from home. The first day of school is not the time to surprise a picky eater with food they hate or a junk-food junky with a health-food-only lunch.

  9. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check yourself. Your child may be picking up on YOUR anxiety. Make sure you project confidence and encouragement about school when your child is around.

  10. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! It may become a tradition you can both look forward to every year.

We at achievebalance.org wish you and your family an amazing school year!

Adjusting to a New School: Anxiety and Making Friends

Monday, August 31st, 2015

In this uncertain economy, relocating is usually accepted by the grateful job hunter as just a part of the job description. The impact on the children cannot be minimized, however, and children will process the event in their own way depending on their age, the number of past moves they can recall, and the distance that will be traveled. Important questions are: Will there be an acculturation issue?  Will there be a language barrier?  Has your child ever visited the area in which you intend to relocate? Guarding against new school anxiety is all about learning the landscape.

Here are some things the experts recommend when adjusting to a new school and town:

1. Make choosing a school a team effort.  If you’re choosing between a few schools, talk with your child about what each one has to offer. After you choose the school, allow your child to visit and take a tour. This will greatly reduce new school anxiety.

2. Take time to say goodbye to the old school. Make a scrapbook, or ask all the kids in the class sign a T-shirt, picture frame, or an autograph book. Make sure you also give old friends and teachers information about how to stay in touch with your child.

3. Keep a positive focus! Present the new school as a place where they will learn new things and make friends.

4. Encourage school involvement. Your child is more likely to engage academically if he/she feels connected through a school activity, club or sport. Ask:

  • What are your goals for the school year?
  • How are you going to get involved in school outside of the classroom?
  • What is your favorite thing to do right now and how might you find others like you?

5. If you are moving your family to a location where a different language is spoken, think about learning the language and culture together. Conversing at the dinner table only in the new language can lead to lots of laughs.

Some good resources are:

For younger children:

The Berenstain Bears Go to School, by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House, 1978)
Arthur’s Teacher Trouble, by Marc Brown (Trumpet, 1986)

This was originally published in 2012 but it is still a great resource!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

 

How Classroom Routines for Children Provide Security in their Daily Education

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

This is the first of a four-part series that examines the importance of rituals in our lives. This article will examine the daily rituals that we all take for granted, as we often fail to recognize their role in keeping us grounded. It is important to know “routine” definition. A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed, or a fixed program. These daily rituals are particularly significant as children start school, when parents adjust schedules to accommodate the changes from a more flexible summer routine to the more demanding requirements of a daily education program.

Our schools are very rich in the usage of rituals. The day begins with morning announcements, the children have certain times and routines for classes, recess, lunch, etc. Have you ever observed routines for children throughout their day at school, including the classroom routines? They know exactly what to anticipate the moment they walk in the door. There is a place for their backpacks, jackets, supplies. They know when they are supposed to take out materials from their desks, open books, etc. In order for rituals to be effective, they have to be meaningful, so the rituals in the schools and classrooms provide a security for the children as they become comfortable knowing what to expect. Have you ever listened to a child explain that they had a substitute teacher? You can tell from the child’s voice that the routine was different. Have you ever heard a child explain that they had music that day rather than PE? It is significant for them, because it is a change in what they expected.

As schools create daily rituals for children, it is also crucial for parents to use rituals in the home to provide that same sense of “grounding.’ Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, reading books together, doing homework at specified times, etc. Children want and need that security that rituals provide them.
Surprise yourself and make a list of all the daily rituals that you have provided for your family.

Next month we will examine those rituals that families create for special occasions such as birthdays.

Anxious Children: How to Ease Anxiety and Treating Anxiety in Young Children

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Jason* (not his real name) enjoyed being at home and could always find things to do. He was highly creative and enjoyed making up plays, playing music, and doing art projects. His mother loved her son and relished his creativity.

The first day of school brought out another side of Jason. The morning started with Jason resisting getting dressed. Finally packed into the car, he told his Mom he didn’t want to go to school. The closer school got the more distressed Jason became. The morning climaxed with Jason refusing to get out of the car in the school parking lot and Mom having to drag him out and into his classroom where Jason hung onto her for dear life.

Childhood anxiety creates problems for the whole family if it is not understood and dealt with appropriately. In helping your anxious child, it is important to remember these things:

1. Your child is not “weak” or “immature.” Your child is struggling with an anxiety issue.

2. Be supportive and loving to your child. It is helpful to explain calmly what he/she can expect during the day and when you will be back for pick-up.

3. Maintain a regular schedule for bedtime routines and morning routines. Post the schedule on the fridge.

4. Provide lots of emotional support and hugs.

5. Talk with the teacher about our child’s anxiety and elicit her support for anxious children.

If your child’s anxiety does not abate after a reasonable time, talk to your pediatrician and request a full physical exam so as to learn the right way for how to ease anxiety. For children with constant anxiety that interferes with their daily life, play therapy has proven to be very helpful. A licensed therapist can provide the support and direction you need for treating anxiety in young children.. It is also important to consider there is medication that can make a world of difference.

Sue Watkins, MA, LMFT, has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

How Parents Can Help Relieve Test Taking Anxiety

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It is safe to say that high stakes testing in public education has become a prevalent issue for students and parents alike. While facing a standardized test is stress-producing for most children, there are some youngsters for whom it is an overwhelming monster that evokes feelings of depression, anxiety, and outright fear. If your child suffers from test taking anxiety, there are things you can do to help her cope.

First, make a list of things that trigger test taking anxiety for your child. Some good questions to ask include, “What is it about taking the test that makes you feel scared?”  “What do you think will happen when you get actually sit down to take the test?”  “What do you think will help you do your best on the test?”  Talk with your child about each answer. You may be able to help her change some false beliefs about testing, which will be a great agent to relieve anxiety in and of itself.

Second, without minimizing the importance of the test, help her understand that testing is a part of life. While important, tests are not what will define her as a person. Assure her of her strengths and talents and that you know she will be able to do her very best. This may help to relieve general school anxiety, to give her confidence that her competence in the school setting is broader than any individual test.

Finally, the night before the test, relieve anxiety that your child may be feeling by ensuring a calm evening and a reasonable bedtime. Prepare a healthy breakfast the morning of the test and check to see if your child’s school allows a snack. Encourage your child with positive statements that instill confidence. Be prepared with a special activity after the test that will allow your child to unwind, such as a special movie time together.

If you have tried helping your child and she continues to experience test anxiety, contact a licensed professional counselor who can provide further assistance, or talk with your child’s school guidance counselor.

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