School Phobia, Part 2: From School Phobic to School Psychologist–Strategies That Worked and Didn’t

In Part 1, I described my experience with school phobia and anxiety and mentioned that I won the fight over fear. Ultimately, I continued my education and became a school psychologist in which part of my job involves working with students who have similar issues. In this post, I would like to highlight some of the strategies that worked for me and some that didn’t. I don’t think I ever would have been able to identify these strategies if I hadn’t had the experience I did in graduate school. It was an aha moment and profoundly therapeutic. It happened informally one day while I was visiting with one of my psychology professors who was a counselor. Continue reading

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School Phobia, Part 1: My Journey from School Phobic to School Psychologist

August: the month that brings anxiety for some. Many students of all ages are anxious about going back to school in the next few weeks. This is natural, especially as students are facing transitions from one level to the next. But for others, the thought of going back to school can stir up more than butterflies in the stomach. In the next few posts, I’d like to touch on the topic of school phobia. First, I’d like to share my own experience with school phobia and how I moved from being fearful of everything to helping others overcome fear. In subsequent posts, I’ll share some strategies that others have found beneficial.

My Journey 
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Back to School Pep Talk

In the spirit of back-to-school time, I thought I would share this video I stumbled across on Facebook. It’s awesome! We need a student like this at every school to begin the day!

Show this to your kids; perhaps, share it with your kid’s teachers as they begin the school year. I hope you like it as much as I did!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Back to School: 5 Tips for a Successful Transition from Middle to High School

The thought of your child starting high school can be frightening, especially if your child has anxiety, ADHD, Autism, or other special needs. As a school psychologist, I have had the opportunity to work with many students to help them experience a smooth transition. Here are a few tips that many parents and educators have found beneficial. Continue reading

Back to School: 5 Tips for a Successul Transition to Middle School

Starting back to school can be stressful for many students and parents–especially when it involves transitioning from elementary to middle school. The anxiety can be multiplied when a student has special needs. Here are 5 tips to help ease the stress and prepare for a successful transition and start of the school year:

  1. As parents, we often have more anxiety about our child’s transition to a new level than our child does. This is normal! However, be careful not to allow your child to assimilate your concerns. Many children tend to gauge their interpretation of events based on their parents’ reactions. Simply put, if Johnny sees mom scared about him starting middle school, then, to him, middle school must be a scary place. Talk to your child about his or her concerns about middle school and try to address them. If you don’t have the answers, contact your child’s principal or special education teacher/case manager.
  2. Obtain your child’s new schedule as soon as it is available (usually at registration time). Request from the principal or special education teacher/case manager that your child walk through his or her schedule a couple of times before school starts. This will help familiarize your child with the layout of the school and the order of his or her classes, which can help ease some fears.
  3. If your child will be using a locker and has fine motor issues, request that he or she use a padlock instead of a combination lock. Another option is a store-bought lock that uses letters for a combination straight in a line, which might be easier for some students and won’t require him or her to carry a key around.
  4. Communicate! Send your child’s team of teachers a brief email before school starts to introduce yourself and your child with a few highlights of his or her strengths and needs. Teachers really appreciate this and it allows opportunity for questions about concerns or questions they might have. Keep in mind, though, that teachers have a few days of in-service and meetings before school starts so don’t expect a rapid reply. Continue communicating with them throughout the year as needed, especially if you have concerns. Celebrations and words of appreciation are always wecomed, as well!
  5. Relax! This can be the hardest thing to do as a parent when your child is transitioning from elementary to middle school. However, in my experience as I have seen students transition from each level to the next, that they all make it! Sure, there can be some bumps along the way–just like life–but your child’s team is there because they care about kids and want them to be successful. Be prepared…. the first 2 weeks can be the bumpiest as students are trying to adjust. But, guess what? The voyage may be different for each student but they are all in the same boat. I was nervous, too, as my own kids transitioned to middle school and I had different concerns for each of them. But, what I discovered was that they found their groove just like every other new middle schooler and they survived. Yours will, too. I promise!

Here’s wishing you and your child a successful start to a new school year! If you have specific questions that I haven’t addressed here, please feel free to ask!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Leaving a Legacy

Recently, I left my current position to pursue new opportunities in a different state.  As I was wrapping things up before leaving, I reflected on the time I had spent there. I reminisced about the joyous moments, the wonderful friendships, the teamwork, the struggles and triumphs. I thought about all I was leaving behind and I couldn’t help wondering most about the footprints I would be leaving behind. “What legacy did I leave?” It might sound a little cheesy, but we all leave a legacy whether we intend to or not. When we leave a position or job, we leave behind footprints or a path for the next person to continue on. When we raise our children, we contribute to society and leave behind our legacy as a parent–an example for our children to follow (or not). When we educate students, we also invest in students’ lives and the future of society. Think about the legacy you are building. What will yours be? What will you be remembered for as a parent, educator, professional?

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Special Thanks

It has been one year since I started this blog. My, how time flies! I thought I would repost my first blog in light of the season of thanks. As an update, my son just celebrated his 22nd birthday and his first year in the Air Force. He has had a very blessed year and along the journey discovered that a marriage proposal was a little premature. I am in good health and did leave a thank you note for my doctor. She phoned me later and told me how much it meant to her. I continue to give thanks for the blessings in my life mentioned below and new ones I choose to see each day. I hope you do the same! Thanks for reading!

Reposted from 2014:

During the past month, a number of things have transpired in my life. Continue reading