Ready, Set, Go! Tips for the Back to School Transition

by Christa Hines on August 15, 2018

School has already started for some kids, while others still have a few more weeks off.

While some children look forward to heading back to school, others dread the homework, the routine, the sitting still and/or re-negotiating daily struggles with that classmate who, for whatever reason, insists on making their life miserable.

I’ve had the chance to talk with multiple administrators, teachers and school counselors over the years. What’s one thing they seem to all have in common? They want every child to have the best possible school experience ever.

Here are a few quick tips if you’re worried about your child’s transition back to the classroom:

  • Attend back to school events. Student orientations, new family welcome brunches, school tours, school socials and other back-to-school activities can help your child adjust.
  • Connect with other families. Schedule a short after-school playdate with other families at your local park, which will help your child become better acquainted with their classmates. This is also a good chance to get to know a few other parents in your school’s community.
  • Get organized early. Organization and structure gives kids a sense of control and helps them better manage the unknown. Make sure your child arrives at school prepared and ready to go to diminish anxiety on the first day.
  • Manage anxiety. If your child is anxious before school starts, practice calming techniques like relaxing before bed with a good book. Experts also recommend turning off electronics at least 90 minutes before bed. Follow a consistent evening routine and help your kiddo reframe negative thoughts. One sensory exercise to try:

What is something cool or interesting you saw today?

What is something you heard today that made you laugh?

Describe something you tasted today.

What is something you touched? 

What is something you smelled? 

  • Highlight the positive. Often for kids who struggle in school, the focus tends to be on problem-solving their pain points. While it’s important to work with teachers to help your child experience more classroom success, make a point to share what motivates your child, as well as your youngster’s traits and gifts. For example, maybe your child struggles to read or write, but is a good friend to others and loves to sing. Maybe your kiddo isn’t particularly good at math, but is deeply compassionate and a creative storyteller. Perhaps your youngster has trouble sitting still, but is an ace in basketball and is a supportive teammate and friend.
  • Celebrate! If you don’t already have a first day ritual celebration, start one this year. Plan dinner out or go out for ice cream. Kids love rituals and these family traditions make the start of school more fun.

Want more tips? Here are a few of my latest articles to help you gear up for back to school and transition successfully into the new year:

Homework Help | Today’s Family

15 Genius Tips for Back to School | Central California Parent

Kids Worried Sick: Breaking Down the Anxiety Epidemic Facing Today’s Kids (p. 8)

The Experts Speak (p. 38)

Strategies for Back to School (p. 18)

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