sealPurdue News

August 1997

Even veteran students can feel stress as school resumes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The start of a new school year can be a time of eager anticipation or high anxiety for an elementary school student.

Youngsters have concerns about school whether they are attending kindergarten for the first time or are veteran third-graders.

"Young children can worry about getting lost in their school building, about their parents being available during the school day, or whether there will be someone who wants to play with them at recess," explains Douglas Powell, head of the Department of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. "Often young children do not talk about these concerns in detail, or even at all, and parents need to watch for subtle clues in passing comments and questions."

Powell says parents have several options for making the transition from summer vacation to a more structured school day easier for the entire family. He recommends a visit to the school building and new classroom before classes begin, and an introduction to the teacher, principal or school secretary.

"A familiar face can be very reassuring on the first day of school," Powell says, "particularly in a 'new school' situation. If possible, help the child meet other students of similar age who could perhaps even be in the same class."

Powell also suggests:

If the child is in the habit of sleeping late during the summer, Powell says parents should begin to adjust bedtime and wake-up hours a few weeks before school starts so there is not an abrupt change during the first week of classes.

"The most important thing is for parents to talk in positive and concrete ways with the child about what school might be like; and to emphasize that teachers are there to help the child learn and do new things," Powell says.
CONTACT: Powell, (765) 494-9511; home, (765) 474-6313; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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