5 Steps To Prepare Children to Go Back to School

child going to school | Dr. Roseann
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

2021 is a back-to-school like no other!  As the promise of “normality” for kids and families is on the horizon, as we get back to the regular routine of school, kids and their families are feeling a mix of excitement and worry. It’s been a LONG time since many kids have had a regular school week and remembering the how of the routine seems like ages ago!  Some kids are ready to jump back in and others are dreading returning to school. So, before we dive into how to prepare children and teens for back to school, let's talk about the behavior signs of stress and anxiety we should look out for. 

What are Signs Children Are Having a Difficult Time Going Back-to-School


Look for visible behavioral signs of stress. Remember, kids SHOW you when they are stressed, they don’t have the exact words to explain their body sensations, thoughts and feelings. 

Look for theses behavioral signs of anxiety:

  • Reactiveness even when discussing anything school-related
  • Tears when discussing school or the bus
  • Uncomfortable body language
  • Gastro-intestinal distress
  • Sleep problems
  • Verbalizing not wanting return or concerns 

Every parent should understand what are the signs and symptoms of anxiety because they aren’t what we think and it really can creep up on kids and then become a crisis. The good news is that there are many natural and effective solutions for anxiety.

5 Steps To Prepare Children to Go Back to Schools


Your kiddo has their cool new threads and kicks but have you mentally prepared them to return to school is the question every parent should be asking. Kids of all ages have been affected by this global pandemic and even if you think your kid hasn’t, they are walking into classrooms with kids who are stressed out!

So how do you mentally prepare your kids to return to school? Here are five steps: 

  1. Start the conversation about their own stress and other kid’s stress and how to manage it
      • Model and show them what self-care looks like
      • Get them to check in with how their body feels so they can pay attention to the signs of what feels good and what feels icky
  1. Paint the picture of what school will look like
      • Use visual and sensory words to go over the day to day
  1. Discuss the schedule
      • Make a visual schedule for kids of all ages and go over it. 
      • Don’t assume they remember what the day-to-day of school life looks like.
  1. Readjust sleep schedule (15 minutes per day on either end)
      • You want to start this at least a week before school starts.
  1. Think about how to reorganize the space to support learning
      • Get your kids involved in creating a space that supports learning and gets them ready to learn!

How Can I Help My Teen Re-adjust to School?


For teens, the biggest hurdle is getting their sleep back on track. You may be thinking, “Climbing Mount Everest is easier!” but let’s break it down so they don’t give you as much push back!

  • Readjust sleep schedule (15 minutes per day on either end)
    • You may have to negotiate with your teen but this is so important to get them to have adequate sleep
    • Teach them about the brain and why sleep is so important (all kids love to learn about the why!)
  • Open dialogue about changes in friendship circles
    • A lot has changed and navigating new friendship circles may be super stressful
    • Ask proactive open ended questions and don’t wait for problems
  • Ask what they think the workload will look like
    • Grab their syllabus and have them paint their own picture of what their study schedule looks like
    • Have them make a visual study schedule by starting with the end project and working backwards

How To Approach A Teachers About Your Child’s Mental Health


If you are worried about your child’s mental health, let the teacher and/or school support staff know. If you are concerned, then there's a problem. Period. And a little TLC can really help your child in so many ways. Remember, no one ever regrets getting help, they only regret it when they don’t!  Come prepared with solutions and an open mind. 

What Should I Do If My Child Fears Getting Sick or I Am Worried They Will Rebel Against Safety Rules?


There will definitely be kids on either extreme who fear infection and others who don’t want to follow safety rules. Regardless of where parents stand, if they are sending their kids back to school, they need to support the rules of the school to help your child re-enter school, so reviewing them in advance and discussing ways to empower your child is very important. 

I always like to talk about with my kids how they can boost their own immune system and combat stress because that gives them concrete ways to be in control in a time when everything feels so out of control.

I often talk about how to help kids with anxiety and you can check out some of my favorite podcasts to learn more about how you can empower kids to talk back to their anxiety. 

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about solutions, so you are in the right place! 

There are 3 ways to work with Dr. Roseann: 

  1. In-person at her Ridgefield, CT center
  2. Virtually with her home-based neurofeedback and coaching programs
  3. By getting her Get Unstuck Program

You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

Are you a professional who wants more training from Dr. Roseann? 

Sign up for her Professional Webinars and CE-Based Courses or purchase her book, Teletherapy Toolkit™: Therapist Handbook for Treating Children and Teens

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s professional speaking page to see how we can work together. 

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of  media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.” She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2021

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