A new school year is approaching, and my son Cohen is currently in “first grade meltdown” mode at any mention of the word school.

First Grade Anxiety

I’ve watched my soon-to-be first grader regress all summer long. Even though we’ve read books, written stories and worked on our math problems, I feel like he’s scared—scared of meeting new teachers, new friends, more homework and not being able to keep up.

But it’s not just Cohen who’s feeling anxious. It’s me, too.

Last year, I was sad thinking about him starting kindergarten, but this year, it’s worry about him starting first grade. So many things race through my mind. I’m concerned whether he will continue being the naughty kid in class. What if his kindergarten teacher warned his new teacher about him? What if he continues to be bullied? What if he still hates school?

How to Deal with Anxiety About School

1. Prepare for the school year ahead.

One of the things that helps with our anxiety is going over what his school year will look like. Just recently, we reviewed where his classroom will be, visited the cafeteria and the library, and went to the playground. We also walked the after-school route he’ll be taking again this year just so he and I feel more comfortable. Fortunately, his school posted his itinerary online so I could review what he’ll be learning, what activities he’ll engage in and what fun things they may do during this year.

2. Focus on school activities your child enjoys and reflect on past positive experiences.

Even though his kindergarten experience wasn’t the best, I talked about some of the fun activities he loved and what made his past school experience somewhat special. I then shared with him some of my school experiences as well. And then he opened up with some of his worries for the upcoming school year. His biggest worry: “Who will I play with at recess?”

3. Plan a play date to reacquaint your child with school friends.

Cohen’s stress mostly stems from lunch and recess, and rightfully so. He hasn’t seen anyone from his class all summer. So I got the school directory out, called up some of his friends’ parents and asked them to have a play date at the park. This way, Cohen could get re-acquainted with them and get more excited for the upcoming school year.

4. Set expectations for a successful school year.

To help ease my anxiety about him acting out in the classroom, we’ve set up some guidelines for what I expect of him socially this year, along with consequences of what will happen if he doesn’t comply. I reminded him that this is a new year and expressed my confidence that he’ll behave better now that he’s a year older. I believe that he’s ready, even though I’m still trying to ease my worries.

Here’s to a new school year!

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

Have Some Fun Before School Begins

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