It’s August and school is upon us! Last year was just about the weirdest year ever for our kids, so this fall might feel a little intimidating or scary for some little ones. The good news? Kids are resilient and strong, but it makes total sense that they might have a lot of big feelings associated with being back in the classroom. Here are five creative ideas that might be helpful to ease the back-to-school transition:

1. Act It Out
If kids are nervous about going back to school, try roll play! First, act out what the first day of school might actually be like, then try the OTT version (Over the Top) where everything is silly and exaggerated. Try switching rolls. You can be the teacher and your child can be the student and then switch!

2. Draw It Out
Help kids feel ownership of their back-to-school process with an art project to decorate a new lunch box or a backpack. Using glitter glue pens or fabric markers give kids the freedom to go to town on an item they will be bringing with them to school. This gives them a sense of control and helps them bring their own unique perspective and artistic voice into an otherwise unfamiliar situation.

3. Play It Out
Kids need practice reading other people’s emotions—particularly with masks. Remind them of the importance of using their eyes to express and read emotions. Practice “HAPPY” “SAD” “ANGRY” and “SILLY” eyes. Make it into a game and see if you can guess each other’s emotions.  

4. Talk It Out
Let your story be their school super power. Tell them the story of your first day of school or a memorable moment from your childhood at school with this framework:  

A LONG TIME AGO, WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE, I HAD A HARD TIME WITH ___________ .  

I FELT ___________ WHEN I WAS GOING TO ___________.  

I TOOK MY DEEP BREATHS AND I __________.  

IT WAS SCARY AT FIRST, BUT THEN I REALIZED ______________.  

5. Dance It Out
Do you walk to school? How about dancing to school instead? Take turns leading different silly dance moves as you walk. Bonus: play some fun music on your phone as you go! Not walking, but driving? No problem, use arm-dancing that you can do SAFELY while driving!

Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind that the more creative play and imagination you can bring to the back to school process, the more your kids will have opportunities for laughter and joy! Laughter is proven to reduce anxiety and stress and, I think we all could use a little of that this fall. 

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This post originally appeared on Piedmont Post.