SIKESTON -- Whether in kindergarten, high school or somewhere in between, the emotional roller coaster that can accompany the start of a new school year isn't always a smooth ride.
Micaela Kassinger of Bootheel Counseling Services in Sikeston said many children experience anxiety around going back to school, especially if it's their first time or if they are starting a new school.
Kassinger, a children's targeted case manager and community support worker supervisor, said the important thing for parents and their children to remember is back-to-school time is ideal for them to sit down and talk each other.
"Communication between you and your child is essential," Kassinger said. "Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns and express their emotions.
"Although your children may be hesitant at first to talk to you about serious issues, if you spend a little time each day talking eventually they will open up and come to you when it matters the most."
Charleston R-1 Superintendent Kevin Miller agreed parent-child communication is essential. He said parents should let their children know they're not alone.
"Let your kids know what they're feeling is natural and normal," Miller said. "Everybody has that same feeling of nervousness and excitement on the first day of school."
Even Miller, who has been going to school for 45 years, said he still gets that nervous feeling every year on the first day of school.
Those nervous feelings go on for first week or so of school and they do ease up, Miller said.
"Eventually you fall into the routine and get to know people. You find out the rumors you've heard -- like your teacher is mean -- aren't true. You settle in, and it becomes familiar."
Parents should also let their children know the school is there to help, Miller said. Children should not be afraid to talk to teachers, counselors or administrators.
"We want the best for the kids. It's important the children don't feel uncomfortable coming to us if they're upset or having concerns," Miller said. Schools are also taking a proactive approach. To help students prepare before school starts later this week, Sikeston High School is offering a transition program called Link Crew to its incoming freshmen and sophomores today and Wednesday.
Studies report that children have a steady and dramatic drop in time spent talking with their parents as they get older. Only a small percentage of youth report they have conversations with their parents about serious topics such as the dangers of drugs.
"If you open up the lines of communication for your child at an early age, they are more likely to seek parental advice on serious issues as they grow," Kassinger said.
Research has shown that communication increases the quality of parent-child relationships, and can also protect against risky behaviors such as alcohol use and early sexual activity.
Kassinger said: "Your child's success depends more on your involvement in their lives than it does your income or education level."