Ways to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety for Teens: How a Virtual High School Can Help

For many teens, returning to school at the end of an exciting and eventful summer isn’t necessarily bad. They get to reconnect with friends, start fun extracurricular activities, and settle back into routine and balance.

For others, however, the impending start of a new semester can be a source of stress, anxiety and even depression. Some of these feelings are rooted in deeper issues — leading to missed classes and academic underperformance. In these cases, know that guidance counsellors are available to discuss options, and that kids can even earn high school credits online should brick-and-mortar schooling simply become too much for their mental health and wellbeing.

Know that back-to-school anxieties can be alleviated. Consider taking these pre-semester steps to comfortably ease your teen back into the school routine.

1. Open Lines of Communication

First, talk with your kids about how they’re feeling. Let them know they can come to you when their feelings of stress or anxiety are heightened. Having open lines of communication is important so your kids won’t need to bottle-up or cope with their troubles alone.

A low or manageable level of anxiety is completely normal. It’s our natural bodily response to a dangerous, stressful, or overwhelming experience — and a new school year will always trigger some stress. Let them know that what they’re experiencing isn’t unusual or anything to be ashamed of and that they’re certainly not alone.

2. Embrace School Routines Before the Semester Starts

Reestablishing school routines, like getting up and going to bed early, can minimize the shock and distress of early wake-ups on the first day of school. Consider framing this as a form of self-care: a way to take care of both the body and mind before a big, anxiety-inducing event.

3. Consider Virtual High School

Try to pinpoint the core of your child’s apprehension. If they’re feeling anxiety over falling behind in a course (or courses), consider looking online for assistance from a virtual high school. Here, teens can retake specific courses to strengthen their knowledge base, and to improve their grades.

They can sign up for virtual high school at any time, though taking advantage of the summer months to improve their learnings (and to maintain that ‘educational mindset’) can really help allay back-to-school stress come September.

Virtual high school is a great way to encourage your teen to get a jumpstart on their learning. Feeling prepared can go a long way toward reducing academic-related anxiety.

4. Look for Support

If their anxiety stems from social stressors, like bullying or a lack of confidence in a group setting, set up a meeting with a therapist or their guidance counsellor, and look online for after-school activities that can boost morale and help them to establish social connections outside of the school setting.

For example, art classes have been shown to help kids who struggle to express emotion, and martial arts can boost self-esteem and teach kids how to process emotion. Group-based activities can show them how to partner and engage with their peers effectively.

5. Try Calming Exercises

Yoga and journaling have both been shown to be effective forms of self-care, allowing kids and teens to calm their feelings and work through their emotions when they arise. Explore some mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, including mindfulness-based meditation through teen-friendly apps, to help them come to grips with their thought processes and emotions — and reestablish control.

The Takeaway on Back-to-School Anxiety

By having effective and informed conversations with your teen about their anxiety, taking courses at a virtual high school, setting up pre-school routines and seeking out after-school activities, you’re covering feelings of anxiety from an emotional, physical, and mental standpoint — setting your teen up for a successful start to the upcoming semester.

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