Just like adults often get Sunday "scaries" before heading back to work on a Monday, your kids might be feeling that same uneasy mix of anticipation and anxiety before going back to the classroom this month.
But from shopping for new supplies to talking about all the friends they'll inevitably enjoy reuniting with, there are plenty of ways to help kids focus on the positives and overcome their fears, experts say.
Sucheta Connolly, M.D., a child psychiatrist and director of the Pediatric Stress and Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the University of Illinois in Chicago, tells Parents that it's helpful to talk openly and excitedly to your child about their new routine. She says that parents of younger kids can role-play scenarios they might encounter in school with puppets, dolls, or stuffed animals to quell anxiousness, such as meeting the teacher for the first time.
But as Jodi Musoff, M.A., M.Ed., an education specialist at the Child Mind Institute in New York, explains, kids of all ages tend to be very easy to inspire. Musoff says they'll often take the lead from people around them, so if you're excited about the new school year, they will be too.
One way to convey and share that excitement? Sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and tuning into programming that touches on back-to-school lessons or themes. Here are seven titles that are sure to get your little one pumped to start learning again.
1. Sesame Street
There's a reason Sesame Street has stood the test of time for the five decades. The PBS franchise is equal parts upbeat and educational—and tackles back-to-school nervousness in a few episodes. For instance, in the episode "First Day of School With Cookie Monster," Cookie Monster thinks his teachers won't like him. Kermit and other friends save the day by helping him see there's nothing to fear.
PBS, ages 2
This musical Netflix series, of which you can stream three seasons so far, is all about new, exciting experiences. The main character, J.J., learns letters, numbers, animal sounds, and more.
Netlix, ages 2
3. We the People
Check out Netflix's series of 10 animated, civics-themed music videos, created by Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins) and co-produced by the Obamas' Higher Ground production company. The series features musicians like Janelle Monáe, H.E.R., Adam Lambert, Brandi Carlile in videos that focus on a variety of topics like the Bill of Rights, taxes, or federal vs. state power. The main message: By learning more about the U.S. government, kids can get involved, take action, and make a difference.
Netflix, ages 8
4. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
This PBS Kids classic series frequently explores back-to-school themes—and learning to conquer nerves. In this episode, "Daniel is a First Day Friend," Daniel shows Jodi around the classroom, walking with her as they look for something Jodi knows to help her feel better in this new place.
PBS, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, ages 2-4
5. The Healing Powers of Dude
This Netflix show is perfect for middle schoolers who might find themselves in the same boat as Noah, an 11-year-old boy with social anxiety disorder. The show follows Noah's journey, which includes gaining support from his emotional support dog, Dude, as well as friends and family.
Netflix, ages 8
6. Bubble Guppies
The much loved Nick Jr. and Amazon Prime Video kids' series features a fantastic episode—episode 1, season 3—in which the Bubble Guppies help kids find their cubbies and nap mats. And in the song "Get Ready for School," Molly assures viewers, "Don't be scared. It's okay. The teacher will show you the way." The Bubble Guppies help kids find their cubbies and nap mats.
Nick Jr., Amazon Prime Video, ages 1-7
7. Mystery Lab
Middle schoolers can join host Felipe Castanhari as he makes science, history, mysteries and marvels intriguing—and sometimes funny—in this Brazilian educational series that features English subtitles. Kids will learn the facts behind historical events like the Great Plague and modern science like artificial intelligence, firing them up to soak up even more knowledge in the classroom.
Netflix, ages 11