I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
School Can Be Stressful
School Can Feel Safe - And Sometimes Not
Growing up, I loved school. I loved the idea of learning new things, I loved the independence of it, and I just felt as though I fit. Maybe that's why I became a teacher - I just could not get enough of those feelings, particularly of the sense of belonging.
School can be one of the only safe places that some kids have in their lives. Everyone ultimately has a story, and for some of these kids, their individual stories could potentially make someone weep. School can sometimes provide kids a sense of safety and belonging that they would otherwise lack in their lives. It may also provide some kids with a positive role model that they might otherwise not have in their lives. Sometimes, a kid's experience in school might give them the positive change they need in order to find success in their young lives.
Sometimes, though, school can be the one place they dread the most. I can understand that; for some, just the sheer volume of people can be enough to be unsettling at the very least. There is no longer the temporary reprieve students might get at the end of a trying school day; with many teens and preteens being plugged into social media, or even just text messaging, on a regular basis, students, like the rest of us, are regularly accessible 24/7. Kids don't necessarily have the "controls" that adults do when it comes to shutting down from social media or texting, either, and they may not have a parent who is as aware as they could be of their kid's involvement in social media. That means bullies might find them anywhere, at any time. Also, what if the kid in question is nervous about school due to a learning challenge? That could mean information and knowledge may be enough to cause horrific anxiety and stress when it comes to school.
There's something to be said for the joys that summer vacation can bring for both students and educational staff. Most of the time, the school year is around 197 days long, or just over 28 weeks out of 52 in any given year. That means that more often than not, kids spend just over half of each school year in the care of educators, which means they often spend more time in each year at a school rather than at home. Of course, that can be both good and bad when it comes to both the end of any school year or the start of another.
Regardless, it's hard to determine exactly how best to navigate the route to a positive start to the new school year - one which eases the stress for both you as the parent and for your child as the student. There will doubtless be times where your child will be excited to varying degrees and times where your child will feel incredibly anxious, if not scared. The purchase of school supplies will probably cause some stress while buying new clothes and shoes might spark some excitement - it depends on the child, of course, but more often than not, people tend to get excited about new clothes and shoes.
It's hard to get excited about binders, 3-ring paper and new pens and pencils.
I think part of it is that with each passing year, kids and adults alike realize adulthood looms larger and larger for them. The kids we've known since they were truly little suddenly stop being so little. They start making different friends. They start learning things that become increasingly more challenging, and their stress levels rise accordingly.
As we all know, sometimes the anticipation for an event can be quite a bit worse than the event itself. The same philosophy can be applied to something like the start of school, and if you are someone who is starting to feel edgy about the prospect of school starting in fairly short order, the last few days before school starts can be awful. The best you can do is try and keep communication open and establish resources for him and her at the school so that school can be safer than it may have been previously.
There are no clean answers why school can feel unsafe for students and no clean solutions. The best we can do is help our kids learn that there are ways that school can become a bit more comfortable when it was not before.