On the opening day of school I noticed Sarah, a new first grader, looking very upset.I saw that her shoelaces were untied."Would you like me to tie those for you?", I asked. "Yes", she said with tears in her eyes, “I used to know how, but I don’t know today!”
When Sarah said, “I used to know how, but I don’t know today.” I recognized that she was really telling me “I’m so overwhelmed that I forgot skills I already knew.”
School anxiety is a very real issue for some children (and some parents, too!) Here are four effective tips that have helped my students, and my own children, ease their school “jitters.”
- Let your child bring a small photograph of you, your family, or even the family pet to school. If their teacher allows, your child can keep it on their desk or table. Sometimes seeing a familiar face is enough to keep him or her calm.
- Let your child take a special, small stuffed animal to school.Make sure your child knows that the toy should stay in their backpack. Often, just knowing that a favorite cuddly thing is close by can be comforting.
- Put a special note or sticker in your child’s lunchbox, and let him or her know to “look” at lunch for a special “something” you left in the lunchbox.
- Read stories together about going to school for the first time.Two great ones are “Grover Goes to School,” by Dan Elliot, and “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn.