EducationLocalStacy M. Brown

Back to the Classroom: A Game Plan for Reducing Anxiety

Back-to-school supplies were a bit different this year for 13-year-old Kamsi Anomnachi.

Along with a day planner, an array of pens and a couple of thick notebooks, Kamsi added face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves.

“I’m excited to go back, but I am also really nervous,” said Kamsi of her middle school in Washington, D.C. “I have asthma and need to be extra careful. I just don’t know how it’s all going to work.”

Kamsi, like many across the country, spent the past school year in a virtual classroom interacting with other students and teachers only via a computer screen.

Going back to in-person learning with potential restrictions only added to her anxiety.

“Returning to school with other peers may cause some students to think about the added pressure to connect with others while trying to stay focused on their learning,” said Tamela Odom, an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. “In addition, it will take time for students to physically, emotionally, and mentally transition back into the full school day routine in person.”

Schoolteacher Tamela Odom
Schoolteacher Tamela Odom

But parents can help prepare their children for what may be a tough transition.

“Talk to your child about what things they are looking forward to upon returning to school and things that they may feel anxious or nervous about,” Odom said. “Brainstorm strategies to help them navigate things they may feel uneasy about.”

Kamsi’s mom, Benefit, freely emails teachers with questions and regularly talks with Kamsi about her day.

She also designates every Monday evening as family time. As a Jehovah’s Witness, she looks for practical Bible-based advice to help with any issues or concerns.

“We review how to display Christian qualities such as love, patience, and respect using articles and videos from jw.org,” Benefit said. Also, I have role-playing sessions to help Kamsi with straightforward, respectful answers in different situations. This has helped Kamsi feel confident and excited about returning to school.”

While coronavirus variants have stoked pandemic anxieties, Benefit has endeavored not to overlook other challenges her daughter may face.

One of their favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is free to all.

Topics like “What’s a Real Friend?” and “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists” are addressed in a video series for young people that Kamsi recommends to everyone.

“I really like the website! It has a lot of helpful and practical things, like articles, videos, animations,” Kamsi said. “It will benefit kids if they are anxious about going back to school, the delta variant or anything really. I always share it with everyone.”

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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