Going back to school in the fall is a normal routine for children. Usually this time corresponds to different anxieties accompanied by excitement or dread, potentially both. As children and their families prepare for the upcoming school year, uncertainty across the world in terms of the health and well-being of our people has made normal challenges, like transitioning to a new school or learning in person, increasingly difficult. This year as the Covid-19 pandemic is still relevant, those anticipated struggles are exacerbated, but with the right interventions can be alleviated.

Dr. Elizabeth Reichert, Ph.D. and clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences spoke on the concerns and how to be proactive before the school year begins (1). Reichert claimed some children may be facing stressors aside from the pandemic including transitioning to a new school, or starting school (e.g. kindergarteners). With the pandemic, anxiety and stress may be increased as some families are still concerned about social interactions, mask policies, and the transition back to in person learning. Children are now required to relearn their social interaction skills in order to stay engaged and connected within the classroom, and away from their families.

“What will things be like this year?” “Will my mask be uncomfortable all day?” “Did I fall behind last year?” “I wish my mom was here to help me with my school work like last year- this is too tough.” Kids may be facing questions like this upon returning to school. Children who have become accustomed to a new way of learning may face anxiety with changing their routine.

Neurofeedback therapy offers an individualized, noninvasive approach to treatment that encompasses a wide range of neurological conditions. Anxiety disorders are just a subset of the issues treated by neurofeedback therapy. The maintenance of anxiety can contribute to a child’s ability to advance and succeed intellectually. With that, neurofeedback is an appropriate means to ensure an effortless return to school.

A reputable neuropsychology clinic published a study showing the efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in reducing anxiety in school-aged children. Specifically, the research inquired to learn more about the levels of anxiety and cortisol after completing a single neurofeedback session. The results concluded that anxiety levels in patients significantly decreased (P<0.01) as well as noticeably lower cortisol levels (P<0.04) after the session was completed as compared to a control group (2). Anxiety is one of the most commonly occurring psychiatric disorders in children, therefore many forms of impactful treatment should be available and utilized (4). Parents want the absolute best for their children- which is why neurofeedback therapy is an accommodating option to reduce symptoms of anxiety in children. By anticipating the needs of children at the beginning of the school year, there is the ability to find alternative forms of treatment for a child struggling to prosper in unruly conditions.

(1) Digitale, E. (2021). 5 questions: Elizabeth Reichert on handling back-to-school anxiety in a pandemic. Stanford Children’s Health. https://healthier.stanfordchildrens.org/en/tips-for-kids-back-to-school-anxiety/

(2) Gadea, M., Alino, M., Hidalgo, V., Espert, R., Salvador, A. (2020). Effects of a single session of SMR neurofeedback training on anxiety and cortisol levels. Neurophysiologie Clinique, 20(30034-4). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neucli.2020.03.001

(3) Hashemian, P., Sadjadi, S.A. (2014). Effectiveness of neurofeedback therapy in children with separation anxiety disorder. Journal of Psychiatry 17: 1000149. doi: https://doi.org/10.4172/Psychiatry.10000149