Identifying and easing school transition troubles

We're a few weeks into the new school year, but it may not be going well for some students.

There's always anticipation when the school bell first rings, but when normal back-to-school jitters turn into anxiety, and kids have a tough time settling in, families often need help.

Dr. Scott Tomaine, of Children's Hospital Primary Care in Flourtown, says different ages bring different worries.

"Elementary kids, you know, they're oftentimes just worried about starting a new class, having a new teacher, having new children in class, kids that they don't know," said Dr. Tomaine.



So they might be angry, act out, or suddenly have other bad behavior that's out of character.

In middle and high school,
"They're worried oftentimes about workload, tougher classes," said Dr. Tomaine.

Signs of trouble among teens include sleeplessness, being overly restrained or overly emotional, and not enjoying things they used to like.

For younger children, Dr. Tomaine says kids' memories are short, so parents should remind them they felt this way in the past, but that feeling went away.



"As time went on, you loved school, you made new friends, you had great experiences, and it's going to be the same this year," he said.

Talk to the teacher, and let your child know there are great things planned.
For teens, he says deemphasizing grades often defuses anxiety.

"What I say is, if you work hard and you try your best, usually the grades will come, you'll do well, just from that, that effort," says Dr. Tomaine.

But he says it's important to let the teacher or school administrators know early on if there are issues... so they can be addressed before a student falls too far behind.

Dr. Tomaine says it's always good for parents & caregivers to discuss school adjustment matters with pediatricians.

It can get them to the source of the problem, or at the very least, alleviate fears they're the only family dealing with problems.
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