By Pafoua Yang

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s back-to-school for many in a few weeks, but after more than a year at home during the pandemic, many children returning will be burdened with feelings of anxiety.

For Fatima Igdi, her daughter is feeling a rollercoaster of emotions as kindergarten is fast approaching.

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The jitters and nerves are normal though according to Parents in Community Action (PICA) director of education Chau Nguyen.

“The environment is different. The transition is more challenging,” said Nguyen. “Once they enter into PICA doors, we prepare them throughout the process by working with families side by side.”

PICA supports families by providing comprehensive services including early childhood development, health services, workforce development programs and parent training opportunities.

Nguyen said there are many ways to ease your child’s nerves: first, you can start off with positivity.

“Get excited, that’s a very important thing, is getting kids excited to go to kindergarten,” explained Nguyen. “It’s something that’s going to be fun, they’re going to meet new friends, new teachers and it’s going to be a safe place for them.”

Allina Health Clinical Psychologist Meghan Miller said they’re seeing an overarching increase of anxiety not only among kids but adults too. This is bought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Miller is encouraging parents to take advantage of school offers like meet-and-greets.

“Being able to visit the school, let them go inside and let them experience the environment to meet the people they’re going to be interacting with,” said Miller.

She added that it’s just as important for adults to take care of themselves as kids are always watching and learning from adults.

“Making sure we’re taking care of ourselves and allow ourselves to be flexible in thinking and adapting to the situation. If we’re struggling with that, make sure we get help so we can be good models to our children,” Miller said.

As for Igdi and her daughter, they’re not worried about the nerves. Igdi said thanks to PICA, her daughter has been set up for success.

“I’m sure she’s going to do fine after the first week,” Fatima said.

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The Minnesota Dept. of Education says kindergarten is not required but it’s highly encouraged for growth and brain development.

Pafoua Yang