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Back-to-School Transition Tips

Back-to-School Transition Tips

It’s August, and school is just around the corner. You are probably wondering how the summer disappeared so quickly!

If you are thinking about school, you know your children are too. 

Are they nervous? Excited? Ready to go back? 

These are all questions you are likely wondering, discussing, or worrying about. So what can you do? How can you help your child begin to feel at ease or even begin to prepare for a successful year ahead mentally? 

While every child is different, as a parent, teacher, and school administrator, I have some tips which you should consider to help your child have a smooth transition to the new school year.

Start talking about school.

Have a conversation! Ask your child how they feel about school. What are they feeling good about? What is making them nervous? Is there anything they can do now to prepare better? 

When you have this conversation, listen! As parents, we often try to solve our children’s problems before we even fully understand what they are thinking. You know your child so well that you think you know their problems before they even describe them. However, sometimes they just need to say things out loud. If you listen first, they will often realize that they already know the solution or that they don’t need to worry nearly as much as they thought. 

When they complete their thoughts, you can ask more questions or help suggest proactive steps to alleviate their nerves, help them worry less, and/or even prepare for the year ahead. After identifying any worries or stressors, consider what steps you can take to ensure they feel supported as they begin the year. They can do things like reach out to a friend or a former teacher or contact the school with questions. Come up with a list of things you can do with your child, and then work together on completing the proactive steps.

Start a Back-to-School Routine.

Returning to school is always hard, but even more difficult if you or your child is used to having so much flexibility that they have little-to-no regular routine. Start establishing a schedule for going to bed, waking up, and eating meals. Begin this routine consistently for at least a few days before school starts. If you can do this for a week or two before school, that will be best. If that is impossible, even a few days of a routine schedule will make going to bed and waking up those first few days much more manageable. This is sometimes the most challenging part for kids to police themselves, so you may need to be an enforcer regarding these things. Additionally, speak to your child about phone policies if your child has a phone or other electronic device. Setting screen time limits and removing devices from a child’s room at bedtime are suggested to help improve sleep and mental health. 

Get organized.

Uncertainty creates worry, and change makes people anxious simply because they do not know what is going to happen. As an adult, you know this is unavoidable in life. However, try to get as organized as possible and seek clarity on anything you can. The more organized and clear you are about the “controllables” in life, the less there will be to worry about. Figure out as much as you can about when your child needs to be at school, where to drop him/her off, when and where you will pick up your child after school, etc. Many schools, including Linsly, have orientation programs at the beginning of the year, and these are often designed to help parents and students understand these very things. Be sure to attend these sessions, ask questions, and try to get as organized as possible before the year starts.

Finally, as a parent, now is the time to be optimistic about new opportunities, a new year, and a fresh start. Attitudes are contagious, and a positive outlook gives energy to those around you. Remind your child that we can all do difficult things. Set the tone, and that will help ensure we all have a fantastic school year.