Marty Barber, Cartersville Elementary School counselor, said new and returning students often face the same concerns with interacting with their peers and adjusting to a new grade.
"Sometimes [students] may feel like they don't know a lot of children in their classroom, so we let them know [school] will be a great opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and that your best friend may not be in your classroom, but that's OK because you're going to make more friends," Barber said. "Some of them may be a little bit worried about the workload, but we want to reassure them we'll help support them in every way. We want them to be successful and their happiness is very important to us."
Adairsville High School lead and senior counselor Chaja Pinkard said the transition to high school can cause some difficulty for students as well.
"The most common first-day jitters are, of course, everybody getting lost with their classes or not making it on time," Pinkard said. "The getting lost is usually directed towards freshmen, and/or any new students we've gotten over the summer or school year. The other half of that, getting to class on time, everyone may have that anxiety but, of course, the freshman will probably have a little more added because they're new to the building."
Barber said establishing priorities the night before will help with busy mornings as students and parents plan their day.
"It's good to prepare as much as you can the night before so your mornings are run better," Barber said. "In other words, have your backpack packed, your clothes laid out, your shoes, and that will help a lot."
She said once students make it to school, counseling staff and teachers maintain a positive attitude about social interaction when speaking with students nervous about being around unfamiliar peers.
"Our number one goal is that they want to come to school, and one of our priorities early on is for them to feel a sense of belonging," Barber said. "Everybody that works at the school cares very much about children, their education, and we just really want them to feel happy and good and we're alert to anybody that might not feel comfortable and we'll give them a little bit of extra attention."
Barber and Pinkard said the individual school counselors offer assistance for parents dealing with back-to-school stress, and that they are not alone.
"[Parents] can call us if they have anxieties and I really think they should talk to parents who are going through the same thing and have kind of a support group," Barber said.
Pinkard said, "For upcoming freshmen, we generally hear concerns [from parents] about their courseload, actually getting and understanding the difference between middle school and high school concerning the curriculum ... and knowing what their graduation requirements are. Outside of that, a lot of parents are nervous for their upcoming freshmen because this is really starting a new phase in their life and it's just general nervousness."
She said the other end of the spectrum are the concerns from parents of graduating seniors, which Pinkard said develop over the school year.
"As far as seniors go, I get phone calls checking on the status of their graduation, whether or not they're on track to graduate this year, and that's generally all I get toward seniors is parents checking up and double-checking to see [students] passed all their tests and have been placed in the right classes so they can graduate."
Both Barber and Pinkard said parental involvement in a child's education was essential for success.
"Make it your business to be informed," Pinkard said. "Any time you're unsure of anything the best thing to do is ask the questions, there's no question too big or too small. You have to know all the things required of your student whether it's their first year or whether it's their final year because, at the end of the day, both groups are going to be held accountable by the standard that is set by [the school systems] as well as the state of Georgia."