Bigger Kids

How to Avoid Back-to-School Hysteria

Prepare your kids — and yourself — for the new school year with these expert tips.

How to Avoid Back-to-School Hysteria


Summer is a great time for any child. There’s less anxiety about school, no homework, more screen time and lots of fun with the family. Even if your child goes to therapists in the summer, no school means the load is lighter.

For parents, a break from school means fewer lunch bags to pack, fewer emails, permission forms and meetings. Everyone is usually a bit more laid back and it feels good.

And then August comes and school jitters begin to creep in. Both parents and kids worry about new teachers and what the new school year will bring. Will the teacher understand your child? Will your child be in a class with their friends? Will they be stuck with the bully from last year again?

Left unchecked, these worries can build into back-to-school hysteria. So what’s the key to avoiding unnecessary drama?

two people holding a sign that says back to school iStock

Take a deep breath. If you make a family plan and do it for at least a week before school starts, it can help your child’s anxiety and your own. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Make sure conversations about your concerns for your child take place away from the child. It’s common to think children aren’t listening. Believe me, even at three years old, your child will know when you are talking anxiously about them.
  2. If your child was on medication, but off of it for the summer, now is the time to see the doctor so your child can adjust to the meds before school starts.
  3. Most children go to sleep later in the summer. One to two weeks before school starts, begin putting your child to bed 15 minutes earlier and keep adjusting by 15 minutes until you’re back at your usual bedtime.
  4. Read to your child each night before bed. Choose something fun and lighthearted like a funny chapter book, calming poetry or even a magazine made for kids.
  5. Talk to your child about what makes them happy and what they are worried about. Remind them what they are good at and what they like about school (besides recess).
  6. Tell your child the teachers are worried, too. They don’t know the children, they’ve been on vacation and sleeping in every day and not having to work or go to meetings. They feel the same way.
  7. Talk about their weekly schedule. Outline which days they will play sports, and have lessons, appointments and tutoring. Making or marking up a calendar can help them visualize their new schedule.
  8. Remind kids that extra-curricular activities might mean that there’s less time for electronics. That way they won’t be shocked and outraged when schedules shift.
  9. Check the class list and, if possible, organize to have a friend over who is in their new class so they can get reacquainted after a busy summer.
  10. The weekend before school, try to do a family outing.
  11. In almost every classroom I have ever been in, the teacher asks the children to write about something they did over the summer. Prepare your child for this first writing assignment by talking about what they might want to write about.
  12. Once school starts, be there for your child at bedtime, giving them an opportunity to talk about their day at school and how things are going.

While it’s important to start preparing your child for school before it starts, don’t contact the teacher until class is in session. They are busy getting ready for their new class, and may be just as nervous as you are. During the first week of school, email them to introduce yourself and your child and then say that you will set up a meeting in a few weeks.

Take the days leading up to the new school year one day at a time. Follow these tips and that first week back will be a lot less stressful.



Dr. Victoria Waller is a creative child educator, rockstar tutor, and author of the best-selling book, Yes, Your Child Can: Creating Success for Children with Learning Differences.

Prominently known for her tutoring work with celebrity children including the Kardashians, Dr.Waller’s techniques create success for children with learning differences by drawing out and using their strengths, passions, and genius to teach them.

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.