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Ease Back To School Anxiety With Tips From Westchester Education Expert

Somers resident Dr. Martha Mendez-Baldwin offers a list of tips to ease back to school anxieties.
Somers resident Dr. Martha Mendez-Baldwin offers a list of tips to ease back to school anxieties. Photo Credit: Submitted

SOMERS, N.Y. -- Gearing up for back to school but sensing anxiety among your kid(s)?

Somers resident Martha Mendez-Baldwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Manhattan College in the Bronx who specializes in child and adolescent development, said how you prepare your child depends on how old he/she is.

The below are her suggestions.

For preschoolers and kindergarteners:

* Talk to kids about what school is like, focusing on how much fun they will have.

* Drive by the school so kids can get a visual of what school looks like, maybe get approval to play on the playground or walk around with your child.

* Plan playdates with children who will be in the same class so friendships can start to form prior to the first day of school.

* Plan a shopping trip to pick out cool back to school gear ( backpack, sneakers etc).

* Read books about starting school to jumpstart a conversation about separating from mom.

* Watch your tone and attitude; if you are nervous your child will pick up on it. 

* Make changes in bedtime rituals that will prepare your child for the new school routine.

Older children:

* Get them back onto a regular bedtime schedule.

* Focus on the start of a new school year and not on the end of summer. Be positive!

* Discuss expectation and concerns the child may have (i.e. middle school kids may be concerned about remembering their locker combination; high schoolers may be concerned about a difficult course they are taking) and make a plan to address those concerns.

* Help kids get organized for a productive school year (i.e. new app for ipad to record assignments, snazzy locker items, etc).

* Think back to last year and what worked or didn't work and make a proactive plan to avoid those mishaps (i.e. if a child was always late in the morning, reorganize your a.m. routine by picking out clothes the night before, buying breakfast food that can be eaten on the run such as bananas & granola bars, etc.).

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