You betcha! It’s never too soon to start talking about returning to school. Indeed when you get right down to it, the earlier the better. Kids can get upset about the prospect of their summer being “ruined” by having to think about school, but that presents a teachable moment. School should not be seen as an awful thing, and with a bit of work you might just be able to soften your kid’s outlook. As you’ll see, sooner is better than later.
Remember: School is year-round
Once upon a time, practically every teenager went out for summer jobs -- but this is no longer the case, with the number of high schoolers doing so dropping from two-thirds in the 1970s to less than one-third today. There are a few reasons why this is happening, but probably the biggest reason is the fact that high schoolers now attend school year round, including the summertime. The warm season has become a time to boost grades, pick up extra credits and so on.
In other words, it’s soon going to become unusual to view summer as a time off from school (and arguably that time has already arrived). And even if your youngster isn’t attending to school obligations every summer, they should at least be thinking of school, reading intensively, familiarizing themselves with the fall courses, exploring careers and more.
Talk now, talk often about school
School shouldn’t be a scary subject. It’s a part of life -- a huge part of life. Think about being a student as having a job. Now there are great jobs and terrible jobs, but anyone thinking they could get through life without working won’t have an easy time of it. So school is inevitable, but does that make it bad? After all, school is just the starting stage for all that follows.
School, work, hobbies, friends, hope, fear -- all of it adds up to what we call life. School is just a part of it. Accepting that will go a long way to reducing a student’s anxiety.
Identify your child’s fears and work to reduce them
Not everyone feels anxiety about school, but for those who do, that anxiety can make life much harder -- or even dangerous. But there’s no single template when it comes to fear and anxiety. Everyone has their own perceptions and their own responses, and furthermore a young person’s anxiety is likely to change over time.
Talk to your child. Be friendly, supportive, non-judgemental. Try to find out what their fears are, not to mention their insecurities. Don’t just say everything’s all right, really talk through the fears and compare them with your own school experiences.
It can also help to make sure your youngster doesn’t feel alone. Whatever struggles they may have, whether socially or academically, help and support will be available. Whether it takes the form of one-on-one tutoring or an increased number of hugs, they will not be alone.
The key is to normalize school. When you really think about it, there’s an awful lot about school that might seem strange and alien, but helping your youngster accept, and even embrace that strangeness can help them relax.