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Dealing with back-to-school fears

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Education

The fear of going back to school after the freedom of the summer vacation is normal. The fear is more in children aged between 7 to 12 years than in older children. This is because of the fact that these children are yet to get used to new surroundings and new challenges. They are heavily dependent upon their parents and feel comfortable in only those surroundings where they have grown up.
It is for you, as parents, to assure the children that there are no hidden monsters lurking in the school. You must give them reason to believe that they are going to be liked at school; that many of their activities in summer holidays will earn them greater recognition.
A great way to help children is to make them organized. They must be taught the importance of finishing work on time, and keeping things in the right place.  This alone will make them feel more confident, and reduce their back to school fears.
Peer pressure is another cause for fear. Very often a child who is shy does not want to return to school because he did not enjoy the last session. It is for you to step in, and help the child make friends. If possible, arrange a childrens party with the new faces in it so that the child finds it easy to interact. The after-school hobby classes are another good way to socialize.  
But if the reluctance to go to school persists, then you need to find the reason. Try to take help of the teacher if the anxiety does not subside even after the first few months. It could be a case of anxiety disorder or it may be because of problems in dealing with the classmates. In either case, the child needs proper counseling.
The child may also feel stressed if there is some unusual problem at home like a divorce or violent fights among parents. In such a case, you need to ask open-ended questions and try to figure out why the child feels nervous. You can even consider professional counseling to make the child feel emotionally secure.
Many a time the reputation of a teacher as a hard taskmaster instills fear in the childs mind. However, you can reassure your child that her teacher is not hard with obedient and good children. Maybe, you can even arrange a one-to-one meeting with the teacher to lessen the fears.
A new grade signifies heavier academic load as well as extra curricular activities. Academic challenges like working on research papers or projects can be demanding. Sometimes the normal day to day homework may look impossible. It is for you to give your child the confidence that he or she can do it. You can also help by telling your child that you are always there to support and encourage him.
You must remember that your support is the only anchor for your child during difficult times. You must therefore be patient and understanding, and take time to assuage ruffled nerves.