Back to School Jitters

Updated: 08/22022 – It’s that time of year again. Summer is coming to an end and many of our students will be back in a brick-and-mortar school building. And along with the new clothes and packed lunches comes the back-to-school jitters.

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mom with child calming back to school jitters

My Very First Day of School Ever

I vividly remember my very first day of school from a LONG time ago. As a very shy 5-year-old, I was afraid to leave home and my mom.

On that day, I sat on the bus with my older brother who tried to reassure me that school wasn’t so bad. As we walked into the building together, he pushed me into the first classroom on the left. The teacher was welcoming and had everyone find a desk. During roll call, my name wasn’t on her list. Unflustered, she let me stay and we started the day.

As the morning wore on, my anxiousness began to dissipate and I started to feel more comfortable. School really wasn’t so bad.

After a couple of hours, someone knocked on the door and asked for me! I remember feeling nervous and confused. Why was I being singled out? And just as I was really settling in.

It turns out my brother assumed that I would be in the same room as he was during the previous school year. Wrong! That was now the Kindergarten room and I was supposed to be in First Grade!

Even though it was a confusing beginning to my formal education, I still enjoy telling the story of how I skipped a grade because I was so smart!

Feeling Those Back to School Jitters

Some of my grandchildren are getting ready to go to school. My new Kindergartener can’t wait! She is counting down the days and is as excited as can be. My first-grader is so-so. He likes school for the social aspects – he loves to see his friends.

And my new second-grader, who started a week before the other two, had a major meltdown on the first day.

I got a call at 7:30 AM. My granddaughter was refusing to go and my daughter, as a last resort, thought that I could convince her otherwise.

A half-hour later, and with a lot of coaxing and convincing, an unhappy little girl got up, got dressed, and headed off to school. She knew that she was going to hate every second of her day.

And even though she was anxious, she bravely walked into the building, on time, and began second grade.

Moms Have Back-to-School Jitters too

After that harrowing experience, I then spent another half hour on the phone with my daughter to try to allay her tears and fears.

We had to come up with a plan to help our little one get over her anxiousness.

We got through the first day but there were still four more days to go before the much anticipated weekend break.

So we developed a plan using coaching techniques.


Journaling is a great way to work through concerns and issues, it memorializes thoughts, declutters the mind, and helps with focus.

While children may not comprehend the benefits, they may reap them by writing down thoughts and feelings.

With this in mind, I gave our little girl a writing assignment to complete during the break times scheduled throughout the day.

To keep this very basic and simple, I asked her specifically to write about:

  • Three things that you learned today;
  • What do you like about your day;
  • What do you dislike about your day?

I was amazed at the results!

Here are her notes from the first day about what she learned:

  1. Mars has two moons.
  2. Keep on trying!
  3. If you mess up, think and try again.

She did not like that she had to wait so long for lunch, and she liked her teacher.

She surprised us even further by drawing a picture of her happy self at school!

Sharing Time

After the first day, my daughter found that she never knows what to expect when picking her child up from school at the end of the day.

But so far, so good. The little one jumps into the car with a smile on her face, buckles up, and asks about her surprise. (more on that in a bit)

When asked how her day was, “AMAZING” is her usual response.

And after she runs off her excess energy and decompresses, my daughter asks about the day’s details.

Here are some tips when getting your child to share about the events of the day:

  • Find a space where the two of you can focus on each other without outside interruption
    • No one else around to divert attention
    • turn off the television and social media
    • settle in an uncluttered location where you both can review her work.
  • Allow her to just talk about her day – both the good and bad
  • Ask appropriate questions in response to what she is telling you
  • Make eye contact and respond to what she is saying
    • this lets her know that she has your undivided attention
  • When sharing her journal, allow her to take the lead on explaining her entries rather than you leading with questions. You will be surprised at the thought process that went into her creations!


Every morning, upon getting her little one out of bed and ready for school, my daughter provides a lot of encouragement. She talks about the positives of going to school that day: seeing friends, learning new things, playing at recess, and having lunch in the cafeteria. She also reminds her of “special” days for things like library time and art class.

But there is something extra special that happens at the end of the school day that gives an additional incentive.

My granddaughter gets a surprise when she gets picked up after school.

She can’t wait to get into the car to see what Mom has in store for her.

Rewards are excellent motivators

When you have to do something that you don’t particularly want to do, it often helps to devise a reward for when you accomplish your goal. This gives you something to look forward to and can provide impetus to keep going.

A reward system works for both adults and children.

When thinking about rewards for your young one, keep it simple.

Some ideas for small rewards are:

  • prepare a grab bag of little goodies and let them pull out a surprise:
  • spend some one-on-one time during a mindfulness nature walk;
  • invite a little friend over for a playdate;
  • stop for an ice cream treat;
  • have a grandparent pick them up after school.

Or, don’t keep the reward as a surprise. Let your little one know exactly what they are working towards. You can also get your child involved in deciding what the reward will be!

Dissipating Back to School Jitters

We are now into the second week of school and I’m happy to report that things are going very well. My granddaughter has not missed a day of writing in her “notebook” (as she calls it). She anticipates her surprise and loves to share the events of the day with Mommy. And while she is never happy to get up in the morning and get ready, she is liking school. BIG WIN!!

Using these techniques may be helpful for the first week or for the first few weeks. Each child will move on from back-to-school jitters at their own pace. She will let you know when she no longer needs the extra support that was required at the beginning of the school year.

And while she may no longer need the rewards, continual writing in the School Day Journal for Kids will provide benefits to your child. She will develop good writing habits, practice writing skills, and exercise her brain.

So here’s to a great school year!


Subscribe to my newsletter and get access to the Dream Life Toolkit. Once there, you can download my FREE School Day Journal for Kids. This journal helps your little one write about their amazing school day!

pages showing the school day journal for kids
A free, downloadable copy of your School Day Journal for Kids

To get access to your free copy of the School Day Journal for Kids, sign up to receive my newsletter. You will receive the password to access the Dream Life Toolkit where there are journal pages, prompts, guides, activities, and so much more!

Once you have the password, go to the Dream Life Toolkit tab at the top. When the page opens, you will be prompted to enter the password. Hit enter, and voila! There it is!

Thanks. Until next time.


If your child exhibits back-to-school jitters or anxieties that are pronounced and/or prolonged, discuss the issue with the teacher, school counselor, and/or medical professional.

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