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Back to School: Part 1: Pre-K through Elementary. Helpful advice from YMC Physicians

Yankton, SD —Back to School can often be a time of high stress for families. Young children in particular can face extra challenges. Yankton Medical Clinic Pediatricians recognize that many parents and their young children may be struggling with the transition to school. Dr. Dave Withrow, Pediatrician at Yankton Medical Clinic, explains. “With young children just starting school there can be a roller coaster of emotions. There are lots of changes for them with new routines, new friends, and essentially a new caregiver in their teacher. But it’s not just the kids as parents often feel a range of emotions as well.” So what can families do to help keep a calm routine?


Dr. April Willman, Pediatrician at Yankton Medical Clinic, says your pediatrician can help. “When you have a long-term history with your pediatrician, we follow your child’s progress and development over time. By getting your child’s annual well-visit, we are able to monitor not only their physical health, but can also address any emotional, developmental, or social concerns. We know your child and family and that helps to detect any emerging problems.”


In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advocates that every child and youth receive care through a family-centered medical home. Within the medical home, care is provided continuously over a long period of time so that as your child ages and develops, his or her care is never interrupted.  Yankton Medical Clinic offers that type of “medical home” with Pediatricians, Family Medicine, and Internal Medicine specialists who can care for your child from birth through their elderly years, all under one roof. This helps promote security and trust in your child, and will hopefully set them up for a life long journey of taking care of their health.


“Parents also need help and resources as they begin this new journey with their child,” says Dr. Withrow. “A daily, predictable routine with regular times for healthy meals, naps and night sleep certainly help both children and parents cope.  Try to stay calm and reassuring during transition—using a calm voice, with a relaxed face and body to let their child know that they wouldn’t leave them if the child were not safe and protected.” He continues, “Make sure their child is caught up on their health visits to ensure the child is healthy and well-protected. Most of all, just remember that this is a phase. Building new relationships is a skill and children are resilient. Most schools offer a chance for the kids to meet their new teacher and see their classroom before school starts. These are excellent tools to take advantage of to help everyone in the family with the transition. Remember, even though it’s hard to separate, children will gain a new trusted relationship with their teacher.”


Dr. Willman agrees, adding “Although children are generally flexible and adapt fairly quickly, parents often need some extra support as well.” She continues, “Parents need to remember to take care of themselves during stressful times so they can be better equipped to take care of others. Know that as your child’s pediatrician we are your trusted resource. That’s why we’re here. Talk to us, your child’s pediatrician, if your child’s symptoms of anxiety or behavior problems are severe or persistent. We are here to help and provide the resources you need to help you in your parenting journey.”



Resources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control “Helping Young Children and Parents Transition Back to School”.