If you teach (or have children in) kindergarten or the early primary grades, back-to-school season may very well mean high-anxiety season, for you, too.
Why is Back to School such a big deal? For anyone with an ounce of anxiety in them, this is the what-if countdown of the year! While I’m tempted to indulge my own anxiety by listing a few hundred here, I won’t indulge those of you who ride this roller coaster with me.
Here are some tips for managing Back to School anxiety (for teachers!):
Before school starts:
Set flexible, realistic goals for the first day and week back based on establishing trust, expectations and routines. Anxiety melts away when adults and children know what to expect, who they can count on and feel safe. Kids needing extra reassurance will benefit from social scripts or stories that model relatable characters managing anxiety, like these.
- Prepare a welcome letter to send home on the first day of school, introducing yourself, and giving parents and caregivers an idea of what to expect this year, particularly in the coming month. Ask for written confirmation of the students’ transportation arrangements, and specify how you would like changes to be communicated. It is also a good idea to include how to reach you.
Consider if sending your own ‘Getting to know your child’ form in addition to your letter and the school’s annual update form, welcome letter and possible other items going home, is beneficial. I prefer to do a fun, This is Super Special Me! (All About Me)booklet throughout the first week. Click here for free sample pages of this resource!
- Exercise every day, and breathe deeply, reminding yourself that your priorities are in order, and you’re in good company (we’re all feeling the very same way!)
- Watch this, have a laugh, and realize that on the anxiety continuum, “Hey, I’m doing great!”
The first day of school:
Post your name and grade if you’re picking up your class from a communal area
If students are arriving without knowing which class they are in, post the list on chart paper where it can be seen quickly and over a crowd and ensure with your colleagues that your lists are in grade order
Wear a name tag!
Confirm [and write down] upon arrival how each student is getting home on this, the first day of school, and the usual routine. (It’s amazing how many kids go out for ice-cream with Grandma on the first day, and start their real home-time routine on the second day!)If you’re busy getting dismissal details from parents, consider putting some Back to School stories on for the kids, and or course, have something ready to read-aloud to them yourself!
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