It’s a little hard to believe students and teachers will be back in the classroom next week. Where has the summer gone? I don’t know the answer but I do know it’s gone way too fast.

Next week, I can guarantee my news feeds will be full of first day of school photos. In fact, my Indianapolis area friends started posting back to school pictures earlier this week. While most of those photos will be of happy, smiling children in their new clothes with their new backpacks full of fresh pencils and other school supplies, the start of school can be a little more stressful for some students.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with two teens who live in another county since school has been out. I made the mistake of asking the girls last week if they were ready for school to start. The answer was no and then the tears began to fall. It broke my heart. After not seeing some of their friends on a regular basis, I thought they would at least be excited about that. I was wrong and the tears just kept flowing. I felt helpless, but I also knew all too well how my freshman and eighth grade pals felt. I had the same problem when I was their age.

Their worries were valid. Individually, the girls both told me they were worried about needing help with their school work. They were afraid others would make fun of them and were just filled with anxiety. They had shared this with their parents too.

School can be tough, and kids, as we all know, can be cruel.

I was reading an article about school anxiety on childmind.org the other day. That anxiety can present itself in so many ways — a stomach ache, not wanting to turn in homework, restlessness... the list goes on. And it’s easy to mistake that anxiety for something else especially if kiddos aren’t really open about what the root of the problem is.

With any luck, maybe in the coming days, some of those anxious feelings will subside. If they don’t, I think it’s important for all our kiddos to know they are not alone. School counselors and social workers can often help students and families make the back to school transition a little easier too.

Just remember next week when all those photos of smiling kiddos pop up on social media, there are other kiddos and families whose first day of school may not have been quite so happy.

Lindsay’s family never took back to school photos but if they did she likely would not have been smiling. The anxiety was all too real until she changed schools.

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