A message from the College Counsellor
Coming back to school after a long, summer holiday, can be really challenging. I know that I had butterflies in my tummy on the first day of school, because I was thinking about the unknowns and the changes that come with a new school year. It’s normal to feel a little nervous or worried about change.

For our students, whether they are first year students or into their final year, it is understandable that they may be feeling a little nervous or worried about the school year ahead. Some students have small worries that only last a short time, while for others their feelings of worry are bigger, more impactful and can last much longer.

So, how can we help our children and young people to settle in and feel less anxious about school? One of the things we can do is to provide familiar routines and to prepare our children for the school day as best we can. Having a similar morning and night time routine creates predictability, which for children who are anxious, is very important. Encourage children to be organised too, by packing lunches and bags as much as possible the night before, laying out clothes and thinking about what needs to happen the next day. This can help reduce everyone’s stress before school – parents included.

Talking to children and young people about what will happen the next day, helps them feel prepared and reassured. You might use a visible calendar so that children and young people can easily see what is happening the next day or in the next week. You might write a to do list of morning and afternoon jobs that children/young people need to do. This encourages children and young people to develop organisational skills too, which plays a significant role in reducing stress and worry.

Speaking positively about school can also be very helpful. Encourage children to focus on the positives about being at school, rather than the things they don’t like or that don’t go well. You might ask them, “What was the best part of your day today?” to really encourage thinking about the good things first.

Reassure your children and young people that they are not alone. Talk about times you have felt worried and tell them about the things you do to help when you are nervous or worried. This helps to normalise what they are feeling. Try to remain calm if your child is worried (though this is not always easy), as they will be looking to you for reassurance and to model how you handle challenging emotions.

Consider lifestyle factors too such as exercise, sleeping well and eating well. All of these factors will contribute to a child or young person’s ability to concentrate, regulate their emotions and to think clearly.

Remember that anxiety is normal and that we all experience it from time to time. However, if you are concerned that your child or young person is experiencing worry or anxiety that is impacting on their daily life, please do not hesitate to contact me or our new Counsellor, Carmen Bliss at jsavage@stmartins.sa.edu.au or cbliss@stmartins.sa.edu.au

Jane Savage | College Counsellor