Top Tips for Combating the Back-to-School Blues

This post is part of our 2017 Back-to-School Series. Throughout the month of August, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for back-to-school advice, tips, and tricks for all ages.

Having to gear up for a return to hard work and saying goodbye to the nice weather and relaxation of summer is enough to make anyone sad. If your children are feeling down or are having some anxiety about heading back to school this year, don’t fret! Tips for combating the back-to-school blues include encouraging students to reconnect with friends, helping them prepare for their new schedule, and promoting positive thinking as school begins.

Remember, the back-to-school blues are entirely normal and can be alleviated with a little time, re-framing, and some thoughtful preparation. Here are top tips for combating the back-to-school blues:

1. Tackle back-to-school shopping together

Recruit your children to come with you when you do their back-to-school shopping. Not only will they get the chance to choose new clothes and to personalize their supplies, it’s also an easy way to introduce them to finances. Set a budget for their school supplies and clothing, and help them learn to prioritize by balancing the things they really want with savings elsewhere. You can even suggest that overall savings at the end of the shopping trip go toward a treat. Creating a sense of ownership over school notebooks, personal style, and locker decorations can go a long way toward building enthusiasm for the new school year.

2. Reconnect with school friends when going back to school

Sometimes summer break can interrupt school friendships, especially if those students live farther away, or your children never got around to hanging out with that person outside of the classroom. Encourage them to get in contact with friends they’re going to see again at school, and to organize a playdate or get-together of some kind. Even just emailing to compare schedules or classroom assignments can help to relieve some anxiety about going back to school.

3. Prep for the new back-to-school schedule

Start getting your children prepared for the shock of a more rigid schedule by slowly setting earlier bedtimes, wake-up times, and perhaps even doing a run-through of the morning routine. To help your student feel more comfortable, you can also:

  • Visit the school

  • Check out the new classroom

  • Get a feel for the layout of the building or the schedule of classes.

If teachers are around, meet them ahead of time. Familiarity with the new routine and surroundings will help decrease anxiety and stress on the first day.

[RELATED: Tips for Helping Children Change Schools]

4. Talk through more serious back-to-school concerns

It’s also important to make sure that the back-to-school blues are just normal anxieties about the future, or sadness that summer is over. Talk to your children about why they’re feeling a little down about returning, and listen for signs of more serious concerns like bullying or social isolation that could be causing your children to dread returning. Talk through normal anxieties and try to reframe them by reminding students of fun things or successes that happened last year. If you sense that your students have a deeper reason for not wanting to go back, talk to them about it, and create a plan for them that is communicated with any teachers (and even administrators, if appropriate).

[RELATED: 5 Questions to Ask Your Student’s New Teacher]

5. Make plans for “summer in the fall” to combat back-to-school blues

Oftentimes, back-to-school blues happen simply because your children had so much fun over the summer. Work with them to make plans for summertime fun even after school has started: family outings, trips to the ice cream stand, unstructured get-togethers with friends, or hikes and other outdoor activities. Just because school has started doesn’t mean it’s suddenly the dead of winter, or that every free moment must be dedicated to homework. Plan something for the first weekend after school starts to help ease the transition.

6. Fight “down in the dumps” back-to-school thinking

If your children are making blanket declarations about how school is constantly the worst, remind them of times they’ve had fun with a school project, a new teacher they like, or events like school dances that don’t happen during the summer that they can look forward to. It can also help to remind them of some of the less fun things about summer, like mosquito bites, boredom, or sibling fights that they’ll be able to avoid once they’re back in school.

With a little foresight and preparation, helping your children find ways to look forward to a new school year is easily accomplished. Re-frame the return with new school supplies, reminders of good friends, accomplishments, and fun, and you can most likely count on at least one smile for that first-day photograph.

[RELATED: How to Help Your Elementary School Student Cope with Test Anxiety]


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