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Getting over back-to-school fears

No worries for a new year

Preparing for a new school year involves more than shopping for clothes or shoes, said Charles A. "Chuck" Smith, Kansas State University Research and Extension child development specialist.

Children may not always view a new school year with enthusiasm, he said. Some may be naturally fearful. Any student can worry about learning the layout of a new school, being accepted or making passing grades.

"Kindergarteners may have the easiest adjustment," Smith said. "Pre- school programs are patterned after kindergarten, so the transition usually is fairly smooth."

When older children are in the family, many younger children can hardly wait to get on the bus with the big kids, he said.

Even so, children who are returning to school or moving on to a new school -- be it a middle or high school or a school in a new neighborhood or different town -- may benefit from some reassurance from their parents, said Smith, who offered these tips:

  • Talk about the new school year, but don't dwell on it.

  • Schedule a get-acquainted meeting with your child's teacher.

  • Visit the school. Ask to see the classroom and help your child find the way to restrooms, the lunch room or cafeteria, gym, playground, etc.

  • Visit the local public library. "Although not a classroom, as such, the library environment is conducive to learning and known to spark enthusiasm for reading and exploring new interests," Smith said.

  • Begin winding down the summer schedule. Strive for a more consistent schedule, including regular bed and breakfast times. "Be positive," Smith said. "Let your child know that you value education. Talk about learning experiences that you enjoyed."

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