The new school year can be exciting for some children yet it can also trigger feelings of anxiety for others. A new classroom. A new teacher. A new set of classmates. A new set of expectations. These factors can contribute to a child’s school anxiety. To plan for the upcoming school year, we reached out to our mental health clinician Veronica Avalos and asked her to share three ways that parents can help reduce their child’s anxiety. Here’s what she offered: Talk it out: Increasing open dialogue between a parent and a child regarding things to expect in the coming school year will help. Topics might include possible changes to a child’s workload, the classroom setting, and participating in a different lunch and recess schedules. Engage in role play: “If your child has questions regarding what to expect, of course, answer their questions. However, also assist your child in practicing what to say in a given scenario by engaging them in role-play exercises,” said Veronica. Make it fun! One example is when a parent could play the role of their child or peer and the child could play the teacher. Create structure: We’ve known structure and routine play a significant role in children’s lives. Veronica suggests that parents take two weeks prior to school starting to create a more structured schedule for their child since unpredictability can cause increased anxiety. “Ensure that your child’s routine is as close to what will be expected of them once they return to school.” You might want to begin setting sleep and eating schedules based on your child’s age, advises Veronica. Another suggestion is to set times for your child when they’ll be expected to sit still, engaging in quiet, independent activities.