Austin and Central Texas students are heading back to school this month with new backpacks, lunchboxes, and probably a few butterflies in their stomachs.
There’s always an air of excitement surrounding the new school year when meeting new friends and teachers, and of course, reconnecting with old ones.
This year, there may be some bits of anxiety fluttering around with those butterflies too.
Many children are now returning to school physically for the first time in 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school they left then, or the new one they are transitioning to, will undoubtedly look different as the pandemic and its many uncertainties are still very much with us.
Child Neurology Consultants’ board-certified pediatric neurologist, Dr. Lindsay Elton, says it is completely normal for children and teenagers to feel anxious about returning to school in person this year. (It’s even okay if parents are feeling that way too.)
She suggests one thing that can help ease back-to-school jitters is to get back on a healthy sleep schedule and re-establish your normal routine before the first day.
Other helpful tips Dr. Elton offers for returning to school include:
- Talk to your child about any changes in COVID-19 procedures before school starts so they are aware of what to expect in their classrooms.
- Give them a chance to voice any worries or concerns about the coming year.
- Try not to project any of the stresses or anxieties that you are feeling onto them.
- Provide them some ownership of their back-to-school activities by allowing them to do things like choose school supplies, pick out first day outfits, and pack their lunchbox and snacks.
- Start planning nutritious breakfasts to fuel them up, and explore easy grab-and-go options to eat on the way to school if your mornings are rushed.
- Remind your students about the importance of hydration throughout the day to keep their bodies and brain functioning well, especially as it is still quite hot out.
- Offer plenty of encouragement and perhaps some small rewards during the first few days and weeks as they navigate another less than typical school year.
Also, if your student has ADHD, autism, or any other learning and developmental disorder, check in with their teachers ahead of time to discuss their IEPs (individualized education program) to ensure their accommodations and needs will be met.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological conditions in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old. For an appointment with one of your board-certified pediatric specialists, please contact us here.