Summer vacation is a wonderfully relaxing time for children and parents alike. It provides a break from the daily school schedule and more time to play outside, unwind and take a family vacation. But, much like many good things, summer vacation has to come to an end and the transition back to school can be a tough one for most children.   Here are seven tips to help ease your children back into the school routine.

  1. Be enthusiastic about this upcoming change! Children are aware of adults’ feelings, if the adults are enthusiastic and excited your child will be too.
  2. Use a consistent bedtime routine. New routines should be started at least 1-month prior to the beginning of the school year. It may be helpful to back-up bedtime in half-hour increments (i.e. put in bed at 10:00PM, the next week put child in bed at 9:30PM, the next week put the child in bed at 9:00PM, etc.). A consistent routine assists children in calming themselves down and becoming aware of when bedtime will occur. Bedtime routines work best when started at the same time each evening and when the same activities are completed in the same order each night. Here is an example of a bedtime routine:

– Brush teeth

– Reduce noise and light (use of a night light is recommended)

– Bathe child

– Change into pajamas

– Read a story/Lullaby

– Use a favorite “good night” phrase

– Leave the child alone in his/her bedroom

  1. Begin to explain to your child what she can expect while she is at school. Some important topics to discuss include: how will the child get to school, how long will the child be at school, and what sort of activities will be completed at school. Answer any questions that your child may have about school. Remember to talk about school as a positive and fun experience. You can also take a practice run to give your child an idea of the activities that will occur when getting ready for school on the first day (i.e. ride to school, stand where the line will be, etc.).
  2. Include your child in helping pick out school supplies. For example, allow your child to pick red pencils or blue pencils. This will assist your child in being invested in starting school, and she will be excited to use her new pencils, sneakers, backpack, etc. on the first day of school!
  3. Adjust your schedule to attend any open houses or meet and greet events that your child’s school hosts. This is a great opportunity for your child to meet her teacher, get to know the classroom and maybe even meet a few new classmates.
  4. Learn the drop-off policy and explain to your child what will happen when you arrive at school (i.e. you will get in a line outside your classroom, I will walk you to your classroom, etc.), then develop a fun “good bye” ritual. Some children have difficulty transitioning from their parent’s care to school (especially if this is a first out of the home experience). A simple “good bye” ritual could include hug, kiss, say “Bye”, and then the parent leaves. Keeping this routine will allow your child to know what to expect and will make the transition smoother. Keep the transition short. The longer you linger, the more difficult it will be for your child to adjust.
  5. Once the school years starts, remember to keep open communication with the teacher. If any problems should arise during the school year, you will want to be able to effectively communicate with the teacher to resolve the problem.

What tips do you have for easing your child’s transition back to school?

Michelle Rosenwald is a Family Counselor in the Behavior Clinic at Penfield Children’s Center. She has worked in the Behavior Clinic for two years serving children under the age of five that are experiencing behavioral and emotional concerns. The Behavior Clinic aims to prepare both the parent and child for a positive family and parenting experience through the use of nurturing activities, positive play, discipline techniques, and routine.

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