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  • The Play Therapist

Back to School Jitters

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Back to School

Starting school can be both exciting and worrying for children and their parents.

In this post I share some ideas and tips on managing back to school jitters.

Sometimes it is hard for us to verbalise our emotions, and this may come across in 'acting out' or crankiness. Give your child an opportunity to share what they are feeling by:

Acknowledging: Say, 'Going back to school can sometimes be scary.'

Communicating: Say, 'I wonder what you are worried about.'

Targeting: Say, 'I wonder what we can do together to help you feel better about going back to school on...'

Tip 2: Go over the class list

Ask the school for the class list. Go over it with your child.

If there are children in their class that they already know and like, they may look forward to seeing them. If there are children that they had a hard time getting along with, you can brainstorm ways in which your child can have control over the situation. And then role play with your child, meeting someone they like and meeting someone they don't.

Tip 3: Go through the routine

It is difficult for most us to switch from 'holiday' mode to the 'non-holiday' daily grind. Walking through the daily routine of a school day would help to alleviate their anxiety.

Go over the morning routine:

What time they would need to get up, shower, have breakfast, what time they would need to leave the house, when and where will the bus arrive.

Go over the afternoon routine:

When school ends, who will meet them at the bus stop, when will they do homework, when is dinner, bedtime. Factor in after school activities too.

If possible, schedule a visit to the school before the year begins, so that your child is able to get a rough idea of the layout and where their class might be in the new school year.

Tip 4: Role play

Role play with your child what they would say when they first meet with their teachers and classmates.

A video

Children share tips on how their families helped with going back to school.

An article

An article from on how you can help your child cope with anxiety about going back to school:


Here are some stories that I have written for clients and students and other stories (for ages 3 to 8) that have I read to soothe first day jitters .

Born to be Brave

Born to be Brave

This is a story of a fish born to be brave. The little fish learns that being brave is being afraid but doing it anyway.

When I worry...

When I worry...

Some tips on how to cope with worries.

When I worry... here.

The Kissing Hand (

The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn

Sometimes it's just as hard for us to leave our children in a new situation as it is for them. The Kissing Hand is for both parent and child: love and reassurance to face such separations is as close as the palm of our hands!

Splat the Cat (

Splat the Cat

by Rob Scotton

Splat is so worried about his first day of Cat School that his tail moves with worry. He needs a friend, so he takes his pet mouse, Seymour, with him to school. The adventures of Splat and Seymour begin... By the second day, Splat's tail moves with excitement.

Happy School Year (

Happy School Year

by Susan Milord

All over town, children are waking up...choosing clothes...having breakfast...getting ready for the first day of school! But for five children, the day is more scary than special -- it's cause for hiding under the covers rather than leaping out of bed. It's only after they arrive at school and discover the wonderful surprise waiting there that they know: It's going to be a happy school year.

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