Blog Post by Tanner Nelson

A new school year is quickly approaching, and some children just aren't excited to start the back-to-school madness. Whether they're sad about leaving their parents or just simply don't like school, the back-to-school blues is in full swing for some. As an educator, you can use these five tips to help the children in your classroom with their back-to-school blues.

1. Read a book relating to back-to-school blues on the first day. 

Reading relatable first-day-of-school books can help children to see that school isn't so bad. When they see that the book character enjoys school, they might start to enjoy it too. One book we suggest reading on the first day is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, which tells the story of Chester Raccoon and how he does not want to go to school. Chester's mom gives him the reassurance of her love, he is comforted, and goes to school. A second book we recommend is Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London. This book is about Froggy's nervousness on the first day of school. In the end, even though it's hard for Froggy to sit still, he still has a great time. 

2. Plan back-to-school activities. 

Planning back-to-school activities is crucial to getting children excited about the new school year. Below are three enjoyable activities to do with the children in your classroom. 

Kissing Hand Book Craft and Activity

To go along with reading The Kissing Hand, you can do this Kissing Hand Book Craft and Activity with the children in your care. 

Materials:

What to Do:

  1. Paint one hand for each child with black paint.
  2. Have the children press their painted hand down on the white paper.
  3. Allow the paint to dry. 
  4. Cut out hearts from the red paper.
  5. Have the children glue a red paper heart in the middle of their black painted hand on the white paper.
  6. Hang the kissing hands up in your classroom!

Source: http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/kissing-hand-book-craft-and-activity/

Jitter Juice

Help the children in your classroom get rid of those back-to-school jitters with Jitter Juice

Ingredients:

  • Sprite
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Sprinkles
  • Sorbet (optional)

What to Do:

  1. Make the delicious juice! (one part Sprite, one part Hawaiian Punch)
  2. Add a Jitter Juice label to the jug. 
  3. Pour the Jitter Juice in plastic cups.
  4. Add one scoop of sorbet (optional). 
  5. Allow the children to add some sprinkles to their juice.
  6. Add a silly straw. 
  7. Drink the Jitter Juice and feel your jitters disappear!

Source: https://thekindergartenconnection.com/jitter-juice-recipe/

Family Tree Project

Encourage the children in your classroom to make a family tree and share it with the class. Having the children talk about their family is a comforting tool to get them warmed up to the new classroom environment. 

Materials:

What to Do:

  • Encourage the children to make a tree out of construction paper.
  • When the tree is complete, have the children cut out pictures of each family member.
  • Have the children glue the family photos to the tree.
  • Encourage the children to share their family tree with the class.

3. Give anxious children responsibilities.

If you notice that there are children in your new class that seem to be overly anxious, delegate responsibilities to them. Having a special responsibility, such as erasing the white board or passing out papers, can make anxious children feel like they have value and purpose. Children long for approval from their teacher, so receiving that approval can calm their nerves. 

4. Plan entertaining icebreakers. 

Planning icebreakers for the first day of school can help the children in your classroom get to know each other. Once the children begin to feel more comfortable around each other, they will feel less anxious overall. One icebreaker we suggest doing with your class this year is Pick a Stick. Have each child choose a colored stick at random and match it to the prompt. When answering the prompt, children should start by introducing themselves so that the class can get to know them better. You can also do this activity with M&M's®! Additionally, get conversations started in your classroom with our Conversation Cubes. The children in your class will love getting to know one another on the first day. 

5. Make the first day FUN!

Make sure to fill the first day of school with plenty of fun activities to keep the children busy and engaged. Movement is always a great way to help keep children's minds off of things. Explore yoga in your classroom with our Complete Yoga Set. For a simpler yoga lesson, try our yoga cards. Keep the children in your classroom moving to get rid of the back-to-school blues.

For more information on how to deal with back-to-school anxiety, check out our "Dealing with Children's Anxiety on the First Day of School" article.

We hope you have a great school year!

About the Author: Tanner Nelson is Kaplan Early Learning Company's summer marketing intern. She will be a senior this upcoming year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Tanner is majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations and minoring in both arts entrepreneurship and psychology. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing at the lake.