Google+ Elementary School Counselor blog, by Scott Ertl, Elementary School Counselor: September 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

5 ways to Work Out the Back to School Jitters

How to start
the school year

Ok, maybe not completely stress-free, but with as much confidence, peace, and joy possible. Many students struggle with the transition of returning to school. It is sometimes due to a traumatic summer (Move, grandparent's death, divorce, parent's loss of a job, family member incarcerated, etc.) or maybe last year at school was rough and there's fear of this year being even worse. Nevertheless, here are my top 5 tips to start the school year with as much fun and excitement as possible.

1) Many kids get stressed out when there's a substitute and classroom management and instruction changes. Ask the principal to make sure that your child is assigned to a teacher who will be there for the year--with good attendance. You don't want a substitute teacher for 6-8 weeks while the regular teacher is on maternity leave, nor do you want a teacher who is retiring in the middle of the school year and using a sub to fill-in while she uses up her remaining 5 months of sick leave. Principals usually know who these teachers are well in advance. (Most schools have 3-5 teachers every year who have babies or retire and you want to avoid this if at all possible.)

2) Get to know your child's classmates and their parents. Invite them to a community park to play where you are on neutral territory so you can all get to know each other better before bringing them to your home. Have lunch with your child the first or second week of school to help them make a new friend. Help them find similar interests that they might like to do together sometime. (Sports, movies, roller skating, Pokemon Go, or some other activity that they both like.

3) Younger kids like reading the story "The Kissing Hand" and they find it helpful to have something special in their pocket to hold or rub when they are feeling stressed. A special rock, cross, lucky coin, or photo, or love note can be treasured many times in a silent and unobtrusive way.

4) Give your child extra sharpened pencils to bring to school and give him/her permission to share them with others who say that they don't have a pencil. This is a hot commodity in school and always needed. You can even bet more bonus points for having cool pencils with sports or cool designs on the pencils.

5) The most popular school resource right now are Bouncy Bands, which are heavy duty bands that attach to student desks and chairs for kids to bounce their feet and stretch their legs when they feel nervous or stressed in class and they need a quiet way to get some relief. (I invented them 3 years ago and they have been incredibly successful around the world.) They can be purchased on Amazon or directly at

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