Tips to Alleviate Back-to-School Anxiety

Heading back to school is exciting for both kids and parents. While there is so much to look forward to – learning, exploring and making new friends – this time of year can also harbor anxiety for kids with chronic illnesses.

Depending on your child’s exact diagnosis, there are proactive steps you can take to alleviate their anxiety and make sure they feel comfortable. Here are a few back-to-school tips that will help prepare both you and your child for a successful school year.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your child’s school prior to their first day. It’s important that the administration team and the teachers are all aware of the additional doctors’ appointments and extra trips to the nurse’s office that may be required. It often alleviates anxiety if the student is able to meet their teacher(s) prior to the first day as well. This will help them (and you) feel more comfortable as they ease into this new routine. This is also a great opportunity to discuss your child’s educational needs directly with the teacher. For example, if they are expected to miss school due to treatments, you can coordinate to have the assignments and/or curriculum shared in advance.

Know your options and the educational resources that are available for your child. Under federal law, kids with chronic or life-threatening illness and/or disabilities are entitled to educational support, and your child might qualify for free services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If your child is expected to miss a lot of school due to their illness, there is the option of having an Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) designed to include customized goals and learning strategies. Children who qualify for an IEP receive one at no cost, and also receive free support services. You can read about a parent’s journey with Individualized Education Programs here.

Keep your family communication lines open. Be sure to stay connected with your child’s social adjustments. If they are a bit more reserved and unlikely to engage in verbal communication, try journaling – there are several pre-written, fill-in-the-blank type journals available on Amazon that could be a great bonding experience for you. Or you can just take a notebook and exchange messages back and forth, making the process a nightly ritual. You’ll be amazed at how much you will learn; while also providing your child with a safe space to ask questions and to talk freely.

For more helpful back-to-school tips, be sure to check out this in-depth article on CoachArt.org.

If your child is homeschooled or if you are looking for after school activities you can do together, practicing art can be healing and therapeutic. Research shows that by engaging in do-in-yourself art activities, there are several health benefits that include: reduced stress, improved social skills, boosted problem-solving and decision-making skills, and encouragement of self-expression, creativity, and creative thinking. For more benefits and suggested DIY art projects, read the full article here.

Do you have a back-to-school tip or art activity that you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

The UpBeat podcast is powered by CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that provides FREE art and athletic activities to families impacted by any childhood chronic illness – such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy and more.

If you have a child that may qualify for CoachArt programs, visit: CoachArt.org.

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