5 Proactive Ways to Spark Confidence and Ambition In Your Kids This School Year

Joy and Ella

Many kids are back at school in person. Make sure they’re ready.

Worried about back-to-school for your little one? Be prepared for any bumps along the way.

If your family is like mine, we are excited for the upcoming school year because, after 15 months, we will be back in-person. Long gone are the days of virtual learning or hybrid environments, our kiddos are going back to the classrooms, and “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

This atypical year will require a more thoughtful approach, more prep time and–if you’re like me–more prayers to ease the family’s anxiety so we can lean into this amazing time to learn. Here’s how I’m getting through it:

  1. Prepare early. Start preparing for school before the first day. Now is the time to get ready for the hectic mornings that are certain to happen. About two weeks before school, I usually begin the early bedtime routine–dinner and baths earlier, lights down across the house earlier–which helps everyone begin to mentally prepare for the first day of the school.

  2. Shake out the “nervous nellies.” Most of us have spent the last 18 months either completely virtual or in a hybrid schooling situation. With great anticipation, we’re eager to start the school year; however, some of us may experience a little separation anxiety. This is typical any year, but it may be more acute now since families have spent more time together. Begin to address and validate these feelings in your kiddos by talking to them in a positive tone; acknowledge, do not dismiss, their feelings and be honest about your own. I know that I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to “listen” into the school day or make my daughter’s lunch, so I want her to know that while I’m sad about this transition, it’s an amazing opportunity to be going back to school and I’m excited for all she’s going to learn this year. Maybe work with your little one to create a visual drawing or poster of what they’re excited to do, or who they are excited to see, once they are back in the classroom.

  3. The “goodbye ritual.” This is something we did when my daughter was in pre-K, but I’ve decided to bring it back this year. I’m sure you’ve recalled those pre-COVID, viral videos where the teacher does a special handshake with each student? Well, when my daughter started pre-K, we decided to do a special goodbye kiss/hug combination that offers the confidence to walk into the classroom independently and conquer her day! It can be as simple as two hugs, or saying, “Have a great day, super girl!” The point is to establish a ritual that reinforces that they are loved, cared for, and special. It’ll help reduce any uncertainty and help your child–even your high-schooler–feel safe and confident to start the day.

  4. Proactive communication with your child’s teacher(s). At the beginning of each school year, I have a conversation with my child’s teacher about our shared goals and mission for a collaborative learning experience for my daughter. I find this discussion helpful as it lays the groundwork for how we’ll work together during the school year. Discussing preferred communication methods and times to reach them, asking details around discipline and their teaching style helps to eliminate problems later in the school year. It also signals to your child that you’re truly invested in their success and that, as their parent, you recognize the need to be regularly informed and connected to their progress. It reduces their anxiety about returning to the classroom because they know that you’re there for support.

  5. My go-to: Family communicated schedules! In my home, I often use the phrase: “predictability and schedules allow for spontaneity and flexibility.” When I was a new mom, I found that predictable schedules led to more time for me to enjoy motherhood. It also connoted safety and security to my newborn that she carried into being a toddler, and now as a second grader. While the schedule is never perfect, it serves as a foundation for improvement and, when you discuss it as a family, it allows your child to have a voice in how they achieve success throughout their day.

Joy Altimare is the CMO at the industry-leader in health and prevention for over 100 years, EHE Health. With over 20 years of experience in the marketing field, Joy has become an expert adviser to organizations looking to tackle growth, innovation, and technology challenges. Prior to joining the healthcare world, Joy worked on brands such as L’Oreal, Verizon, and Colgate-Palmolive, and at such agencies as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY and Publicis. Joy is a mother to her daughter Ella and lives in New York City.


Many kids are back at school in person. Make sure they’re ready.

Worried about back-to-school for your little one? Be prepared for any bumps along the way.

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5 Ways For Parents to Manage Back-to-School Anxiety

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