Going back to school can be an exciting time of year for many children and parents, but the changes that come with a new academic year, especially after a long summer, can be overwhelming for some students.

It was an exciting Wednesday morning at École Margaret-Underhill in Winnipeg, where both the students and many teachers faced their first day of classes.

"I've definitely got first morning jitters, for sure. Is the classroom going to look right? Is everything in place? Are the kids going to feel excited about being in this space?" said Aynsley Dunford-Verrill, a kindergarten teacher entering her first year of teaching.

"Lots of jitters, but lots of excitement."

Nathaniel Francoeur is going into Grade 2 at the school and said he's looking forward to math, but that's not all he likes about school.

"I like it 'cause I can make friends," he said.

Staff at the K-4 school in Transcona wanted to make the first day of school a little easier on students, so on Tuesday evening they opened up the doors so the kids and their parents could get to know their classrooms a day early.

Anysley Dunford-Verril

Kindergarten teacher Anysley Dunford-Verril, who is entering her first year of teaching, sets up her class room at Ecole Margaret Underhill on Wednesday morning. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

"You know, walk around, see where their classroom is, even see where they sit. So to relieve some of that anxiety and meet their teacher," said principal Joelle Guillou.

"This year we have seven out of 13 new teachers. It was a great way to meet their teachers so this morning they can recognize who they are."

Samantha Deguzman said she's happy her two children will be out of the house again, but back to school is also an emotional time of year for her as a parent.

"Just getting up and seeing them get ready, and seeing how much they've grown over the summer," she said.

Challenging time of year

Adjusting to a new academic year can be tough for some parents and children, said Dr. John Walker, a clinical psychologist in Winnipeg.

"Some children who are particularly shy or particularly reluctant to be away from their parents, it's certainly an extra stress for those kids and it takes them a while to get into the swing of things," he said.

Walker said about one in 10 children suffers from some form of anxiety.

Younger children often worry about being separated from their parents, he explained. while older children are nervous about making new friends.

"If your child has some worries, listen to what they're worried about. Don't necessarily fix it for them, just listen," he said.

"If they come up with a problem they're concerned about, put the problem back to them: what can they do to solve the problem?"

Experts say it's also important for children to know that their teachers may be just as nervous as they are on the first day of school.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg motorists are reminded that school zones now have a new 30 km/h speed limit.

While the speeds are slow, the fines are high, so drive with care and watch out for all the kids dashing around and reuniting with friends.

Fines start at $181.50 for going 10 km/h over the posted speed limit while anyone caught at 20 km/hr over the limit — in other words, driving at 50 km/h in a school zone — face a $312.25 fine.