Dealing With the Back-to-School Blues

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

It is normal for most children and youth to get back-to-school butterflies as summer comes to an end. But on top of the common concerns about getting good grades and fitting in, kids must now deal with a new set of stressors as they head back to school amid a pandemic. Experts are saying that returning to school will likely provoke some anxiety for all students of all ages based on the social pressures of being sorted into class cohorts and the possibility of bringing the virus back home. This article will highlight some coping methods to make the transition back into school more manageable for all students.

Sticking to the Program:

After almost 6 months of lockdown away from friends, school may seem like a scary place for some students. Caregivers and teachers can alleviate children’s concerns by assuring them that there is a plan in place to make sure they are safe, and their active participation is a crucial part of this plan. Another way to help students feel more comfortable about COVID protocols is getting a head start by practicing socializing with friends from a two-meter distance and having them pick out a mask that they would want to wear. Additionally, students thrive on routines, so it’s imperative that when school starts again students form a routine, to help provide them with some structure to reduce their stress levels.

Importance of Staying in School:

Although it is normal to have worries, it is imperative that the student attend school as avoidance will only reinforce the student's fears in the long run. Avoidance will make it increasingly difficult to attend school as anxious children and teens who miss school cannot gather the evidence to challenge their unrealistic and catastrophic fears. Besides missing schoolwork, children and teens who stay home due to anxiety miss the opportunity to develop social skills, important changes for success, being acknowledged for their efforts, and making relationships with classmates and teachers.

Recognizing What Stress Looks Like and Ways to Cope:

Caregivers and teachers should keep an eye out for symptoms of stress which can include, changes in mood and behaviour, changes in habits, and emotional outbursts. Kids take on emotional cues from the adults around them, so it is important that caregivers and teachers project confidence in the plan set in place. The most important thing that caregivers and teachers can do to help children cope is to assure them that their feelings are normal and maybe even share some of their own. The children should know that it’s okay to not be okay and that their caregivers and teachers are always there for them to support them through these unprecedented times.

Here is a list of ways to get over the back-to-school blues:

  1. Buy some new school supplies.

  2. Rekindle old friendships.

  3. End the summer with a bang.

  4. Look sharp by choosing your best back-to-school outfit.

  5. Have your favourite breakfast before your first day of school.

  6. Set some new goals for the school year.

  7. Treat yourself to something that will make you happy and smile.

  8. Start a reading list for books you want to read during the school year.

  9. Make an end-of-summer checklist.

  10. Plan something fun.

  11. Prepare your stories of the summer to share with friends.

Check out this motivational video from Kid President about heading back to school!

For some other resources like the Back-to-School Mental Health Kit, click the link here.

Starts With Youth is wishing everyone the best of luck with the start of the new school year. We can't wait to see what this new chapter has in store for all of us!