We’re now less than a month away from the new academic year in Southern Utah. This means that a bunch of new students will experience academic life for the first time, whether it be from Kindergartners or students of any age new to Southern Utah.

This can lead to a bit of emotional distress for the little ones in many ways. Maybe they’re nervous about being away from home for most of the day, or maybe they don’t think it’s possible to make friends.

I spoke with Tami Curtis, the Health and Wellness Coordinator of the Washington County School District, to get some advice on how to best prepare kids for their new phase in life as a student in Southern Utah.

Curtis said: “First thing, it’s completely normal to feel nervous and anxious before anything new, and one thing that parents can do is just gradually start establishing that routine. You know, just a gradual transition from Summer to being ready for school to start.”

Curtis said it may be hard to bring this routine into a new student’s schedule as they’re not accustomed to this sort of change, but she emphasized the need for it nonetheless.

One note Curtis hit on was the difficulty and necessity to get a child’s sleep schedule in order. Not only will it help them make it through the day in terms of energy, but that early preparation can lead to some positive changes in outlook for the little one.

If your child is having nervous breakdowns and or panic attacks about their upcoming school life, Curtis has a couple of potential solutions for you as well.

Curtis said: “Start a conversation about school. Parents can be a really good support for their children and create an open environment for their child to talk. What are some of the things they’re worried about, you know, do they have some fears about starting school? If parents can, listen and emphasize and validate their emotions. Let them know it’s normal to feel nervous or anxious when starting something new.”

Curtis went on to lead me through some exercises that parents can do with their child to help calm their nerves.

Curtis said: “There are different types of breathing strategies we teach at school. You can do box breathing, which is when you breathe in for four counts and hold for four counts, and then breath out for four counts and hold for four counts. There’s also five finger breathing, where you can trace your finger so you can take the opposite hand and inhale on the upper trace, and exhale on the down trace as you trace around your fingers up and down.”

Curtis said these types of strategies can be relaxing, but also fun and intuitive for the kids as well.

School can be scary for little ones when they’re first starting out, so if any of these tips can help a single person, then that’s one more smiling face starting a new life with a newfound confidence. Happy schooling.


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