Transitioning Back to School

It is that time of year again – school is about to start. Summer has gone by, and the kids may not want it to end. Often, the thought of heading back to school can heighten anxiety, both in children and parents. Getting the new school year off to a good start can be important for a child’s social, emotional and academic well-being. When starting off the new year, giving your child the right tools will increase confidence in the classroom. A number of websites provide tips to help parents and children navigate this transition successfully. Below, I have listed a few of these websites, but here are 10 important tips from these resources to help you get started.

1. Review any materials that the school may have sent you, ahead of time. This might include the teacher’s name and room number, school supply list, school calendar dates, information about signing up for school activities, emergency forms, bus transportation information or school rules around lunches, electronics and such.

2. Get school supplies, clothing, uniforms, lunch kits, backpacks, etc. set up ahead of time.

3. Ease back into regular mealtimes and bedtimes. Getting back into routine can be hard after a summer of fun, so giving time to adjust to the regular schedule can mean better functioning for your child as they get back into their school year routine.

4. For younger (and sometimes older) children, it may be helpful to review the morning routine with them before school starts. You may wish to make a checklist (with pictures for younger children) of what they need to do (e.g., eat breakfast, shower, brush teeth, get dressed, make/pack lunch, organize backpack, make sure homework is done, etc.). They can refer to this list, as needed.

5. If possible, visit the school with your child before school starts. You can show them where their classroom is, and if their new teacher is available, your child might have a quick visit with them. This can help ease any anxiety your child might be experiencing.

6. Summers can often mean less regular visits with friends. It may be helpful to set up some visits with friends the week before school, so they can figure out ways to support each other once school starts – for example, they may set up a meeting place on the first day of school, or carpool together.

7. The first week back to school can be tiring for both parents and children. It might be helpful to make a few easy meals the week before and freeze them, so they can be pulled out and reheated when you are all feeling tired.

8. If your child is feeling anxious about school, talk with them about it. Let them know that you are there to support them, and help them find some strategies that they can use on their own. It is natural to be a little nervous, so it is important for parents to stay calm, be patient and to not overreact.

9. Once school starts, try to fit in a time with your kids each day to discuss the school day with them, and make sure things are starting out OK. Having 15 minutes each day to talk may help your child resolve any issues they maybe having.

10. Set up a folder for yourself to keep track of school forms and information so that you can easily access it when needed. You might include information in the file such as emergency contact information, immunization records for you child, or the name and email address of your child’s teacher.

Take a look at these websites for more ‘back to school’ tips!

PBS Back to School Transition

NASP Online Back to School Transitions: Tips for Parents

Great Schools: Back to School Preparation