How to Face Going Back to School Without Stress

Are you stressed about going back to school? Today, we'll help you and your children face this transition in the best way possible.
How to Face Going Back to School Without Stress
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 24 September, 2022

Summer is behind us and school is starting up again. It’s time to exchange the tranquility and carefree vacation lifestyle for a daily routine that, at times, becomes stressful. Preparing uniforms and school supplies, getting up early, and eating breakfast in a hurry are all activities that can plunge the family into a maelstrom of chaos and anxiety. However, it’s possible to face going back to school without stress, and today, we’ll tell you how.

It’s best that both children and adults begin to prepare a few days before the commencement of classes so that the transition is smoother and more gradual. For example, a few days before, you can begin to adjust your sleep schedules, get back into a routine, and review the subjects and teachers that each child will have this year. These small steps help acclimate your children to this new stage. However, once the school year has started, there are also some steps that we can take to reduce stress.

Keys to going back to school without stress

These are some steps that, as a family, you can implement to make going back to school less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone.

Encourage an optimistic and positive attitude

For many children, going back to school is experienced as a negative and unpleasant event that causes anxiety or sadness. However, this depends to a large extent on the attitude with which it’s taken. Without realizing it, many adults transmit this uneasiness to their children, as children perceive and take their parents’ emotions as their own.

Therefore, the main thing is to regulate your own feelings and transmit to your children tranquility and positivism towards this new stage. In addition, you can do some activities that will help them to see the transition with illusion and joy. For example, you can ask your child to write a list of 3 or 4 things they’re looking forward to about going back to school.

A mother helping her daughter prepare her backpack for school.
Involving children in the back-to-school preparations will help them have a more positive attitude and generate excitement instead of stress.

Involve children in the back-to-school preparations

Preparations not only help children accept the idea of going back to school but also foster their excitement. If you involve them and allow them to play an active role, they’ll feel more in control of what happens and their attitude about it will be more positive. Thus, tasks such as helping you cover their books, going to buy a planner for the school year, or selecting the extracurricular activity they’ll be doing this year can be very motivating.

Plan times well

Mornings are one of the most stressful times in a family’s daily routine. There’s a lot to do and time’s usually scarce, as we tend to get up at the last minute. In addition, children often don’t seem to want to cooperate and go in slow motion, standing around or getting distracted while getting ready for class. Here are some ideas for better organization in the morning:

  • Go to bed and get up a little earlier. This will allow for a leisurely breakfast and time to get ready without rushing and without shouting or conflict.
  • Create a visual calendar with all the tasks that children have to complete in the morning. Having them in sight will help them follow the sequence without getting distracted and will allow them to be more autonomous.
  • Establish a reinforcement program, such as a token economy, so that this is like a game and they’re more motivated to complete tasks on time.

Empower children’s autonomy

A good way to reduce the stress associated with going back to school is to encourage children’s autonomy and confidence. To do this, we can assign them chores and responsibilities at home to involve them in the daily routine instead of doing everything for them. There are several tasks that the little ones can be in charge of depending on their age and that will make them feel useful, autonomous, and part of the team that is a family. Here are some of them:

  • Preparing their backpack the night before.
  • Laying out their school clothes the night before.
  • Setting out breakfast for the family in the morning.
Parents playing soccer with their son.
Doing family activities outside of school hours can help to ensure that going back to school isn’t seen as something monotonous and lacking in stimuli.

Prioritize family leisure

Going back to school can feel like the end of fun and immersion in a stressful day-to-day life. To make this change less of a shock, try to add family leisure activities into the daily routine. Spending some time in the evenings playing together at home, going to the park, or doing arts and crafts can make a huge difference. Likewise, organizing trips to the countryside, to the cinema, or to a museum on weekends will help to ensure that going back to school isn’t perceived as a monotonous routine with a lack of stimuli and leisure.

Teach coping strategies

Finally, it’s important to prepare children for the emotions and situations they may have to face when going back to school. In general, they may feel anxious about being separated from their parents and have trouble connecting with classmates or getting into the rhythm of classes, among other daily difficulties. In any case, it’s not about alarming them or predisposing them to believe that this will happen, but reminding them that they’re capable of coping and offering them useful tools, such as the following:

For example, practicing breathing exercises can help them calm down when faced with a problem; practicing assertive communication will remind them how to communicate and resolve conflicts; and separation rituals will allow little ones to cope with day-to-day life without their parents. This can simply consist of putting a sticker on their hand and inviting them to look at it or touch it when they feel homesick to remind them that mom and dad love them and that they’ll see each other again soon.

Going back to school without stress is a matter of attitude and organization

In short, make the back-to-school experience more enjoyable, try to maintain a positive attitude, and focus on the excitement about what’s to come and not the sadness about summer coming to an end. Try to organize your times so that you’re able to do things calmly, everyone collaborates in the flow of the daily routine, and remember to plan moments of leisure and connection with your family. Going back to school is a change, but once this transition period is over, you’ll all feel comfortable with the routine again. Just be patient.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Almaraz, D., Coeto, G., & Camacho, E. (2019). Habilidades sociales en niños de primaria. IE Revista de Investigación Educativa de la REDIECH10(19), 191-206.
  • Soler, F., Herrera, J. P., Buitrago, S., & Barón, L. (2009). Programa de economía de fichas en el hogar. Diversitas: perspectivas en Psicología5(2), 373-390.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.