How to Get Kids Excited About Back to School

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Some kids get really excited about the return of school, while other kids drag their heels and wish for just a few more days (or weeks) of summer. I remember the butterflies in my tummy at the end of each summer. After long days spent playing on the beach with my friends and siblings, returning to the classroom was not high on my to-do list.

I walked into my second grade classroom with a firm grasp on my mom’s shirt. I had no intention of letting go. She seemed to know it. She walked me in to greet my teacher, she helped me find my desk and my best friend, and she promised to be right outside the door at the end of the day. In the end, it was one of my favorite elementary school classrooms.

Some back to school anxiety is to be expected with young children. Long summer days and fewer restrictions lead to time lost in play and increased independence.

It can be hard to transition back to a highly scheduled day and things like homework.

Anticipatory anxiety impacts a lot of kids. Knowing how to help kids focus on the positive makes the transition a bit easier.

Verbalize the worries.

The first step to finding the positive is talking through the worries that contribute to the anticipatory anxiety. One mistake I see over and over again is sweeping the worries under the rug and highlighting the good stuff, instead.

While a sense of optimism can inspire confidence, ignoring or hiding negative emotions can actually contribute to increased anxiety. Ask your child to label his fears and empathize with him. A little listening goes a long way.

Make a “good stuff” list.

When kids are out of the classroom for a while, they forget about the stuff they love. Get a poster board and ask your child to name his favorites. When I did this with my son, we talked all about computer lab, science lab, art, music, library, and P.E. The more good stuff he named, the more excitement filled his soul!

{ MORE: How to Keep Your Cool When Another Parent Disciplines Your Child }

Kids tend to get caught in the moment, and sometimes that moment feels overwhelming. Talking about the best parts of school reminds our kids that they have a lot of fun there!

Shop together.

I love shopping online as much as the next mom, but doing the school supply shopping together is a great way to get kids into the back to school spirit. Kids love checklists and choosing their own stuff.

Print that list and head to the nearest school supply store together to the job done in person. It can be a lot of fun and it empowers kids to take control of preparing for a new school year.

Visit with old friends.

One of best ways to help kids refocus on the positive part of the school year is to reunite them with the people that make them smile – their friends. Many kids go their separate ways during the summer months. While it’s fun to make new friends, reconnecting with school friends early in the school year places the focus on fun and friendship.

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{ MORE: Hi, I'm a Mom Who Doesn't Like Back-to-School Season }

Some kids worry more than others. That’s okay. Giving them the time and space to work through their worries and refocus on the positives can help them approach the new school year with confidence.

 

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How to Get Kids Excited About Back to School

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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