What Can Be Done to Overcome School Fear in Children?

CAN TERLER | Karaisalı Atatürk Middle School English Teacher

The first day of school – we’ve all been there and seen it. Since school is oftentimes the first step kids take outside of the nest, it’s only natural that the first day is filled with mixed emotions ranging from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety on the children’s part, as well as the parents’. 

Some kids run from their parents’ arms and into the classroom filled with other children without a second glance to their (most likely) misty eyed parents. Then there are the kids that resist going into the classroom, somewhat forced to leave their parents’ arms to enter school weighed down by fear and apprehension. Sometimes this experience can turn into a type of dread that keeps them from overcoming this particular fear. 

Bouts of irritability, introversion, crying, and stomach aches are just a few of the many symptoms a child might increasingly experience if they don’t learn to conquer their fear of school. The roots of your child’s fear could be wide ranging – some children might be simply overwhelmed with the change or some feel homesick, while others might carry certain anxieties about not being picked up at the end of the day. Ultimately, however, their fears and anxieties are real to them and may in the long run shape a child’s experience and perspective about school and affect how well they adapt and excel in life.  

So, what can be done to help children overcome their fears? 

Well, the answer may be simpler than you think. It starts with talking to your child and listening to their fears. Sometimes a child won’t communicate what they are feeling until they are asked. Only until you and your child identify what’s bothering them can you start tackling them together. 

There are several at home strategies a household can take that can help a child manage their fears, including: 

  • Introducing the topic of school as a positive experience to learn and make new friends. 
  • Increasing a child’s exposure to school and school-like environments. 
  • Attending school related activities. 
  • Discussing and acknowledging what issues your child might have with school. 
  • Encouraging the expression of feelings and teaching coping skills. 
  • Providing play dates with classmates to encourage friendships. 

Rest assured, you and your child aren’t alone in this fight either. There are several other pathways to solving whatever issues your child faces about school. Teachers have a wealth of tools to empower your child and help them overcome their fears. All it takes is reaching out and communicating to them your child’s issues to get the support you and your child deserve. Here is just a small fraction of what your school could do to assist your child: 

  • The teacher or other faculty could establish a caring relationship with your child. 
  • A school staff member could greet the parent and child at the door and take the child to the class. 
  • They could monitor bullying activities that may be taking place. 
  • The teacher could facilitate a friend group to include your child in. 
  • The teacher could adjust work assignments to match the student’s academic skills. 
  • The teacher could create a reward system for class attendance and participation. 

The first days of school are some of the most exciting; however, these feelings might not be shared by every child. If your child is feeling uneasy or even fearful of going to school, it is important to identify what they might be feeling and take steps to ensure that they learn how to manage and overcome their fears. Accomplishing this will undoubtedly increase your child’s interest and progress in school and will be the building blocks for their successfully managing other challenges later in life. 

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