Finding Hope


How mindfulness helps young students conquer the first day of school

Going back to school can be stressful, and younger children can have trouble verbalizing their feelings
Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-08 11:41:54-04

BOISE, Idaho — For many, the first day of school means summer break is over and the start of a new beginning, but back-to-school stress can impact kids of all ages. The transition can be a bit scary, and pediatricians at St. Luke's have a few tips for parents and students when preparing for the first week of class.

Becky Banda is a grandmother to several children starting school. She took them to summer lunches so they can get used to being on some type of school schedule.

“I think they're just having fun enjoying the summer. So we, as parents and grandparents, we have to bring them back to reality 'Hey, you're going to be starting school soon," says Banda.

Most students in the Treasure Valley begin school in mid-August, and many are starting a new grade or new school. This change may cause some students to experience stress or anxiety before entering the classroom.

She says it's normal for both parents and students to feel a bit anxious before that first day.

"Stress is a normal reaction to things that change or things that are happening in our life that everyone goes through,” says Dr. Sara Swoboda, a pediatrician with St. Luke's.

“Stress is always high and then preparing these guys and bringing them to summer lunches helps to get the routine down for my little who's about to start kindergarten,” says Becky Banda.

Younger children may often feel physical symptoms due to stress or anxiety, rather than expressing how they feel verbally.

Dr. Swoboda says, “They might have tummy pain, they might have headaches, or they might feel nauseous, or they might feel tired. So it's really important that if your kids have those to think as a parent, like, 'Oh, are they not able to name that they're feeling stressed or is this really something physical going on.'"

Validating your child’s feelings and asking questions may help students express what they're feeling. Dr. Swoboda says sometimes what could be bothering them could be something as simple as where to sit during lunch.

"I also think, as parents, you need to validate how your kids are feeling. But also tell them that you're confident that they can do school, that they can go to school and make friends, and do well in school. That they're going to be okay and they're safe and that school is a good place for them,” said Dr. Swoboda.

She also says that if your student is having trouble with stress and anxiety about school and they're not able to complete their daily functions, like playing or getting good sleep, parents should consider visiting a pediatrician.

Until then, there's one more week of summer fun!