As the sun sets on summer, the first day of school quickly approaches! The start of the new school year can be a very exciting and stressful time. Research has proven that talking about changes with children and creating consistent routines can ease big transitions like starting a new school year. Below are some helpful tips to tackle the return to school as a family:
TALK about the change with your children!
- Talk positively about the new school year and build excitement about what to expect.
- Ask about your child’s feelings and fears, name & acknowledge their emotions, and praise them for sharing. Once school has started, check-in daily about how your child is feeling.
- Talk about the changes that will happen in your daily routines. For a young Preschooler, you might do this a few days in advance. For an older school-aged child you may want to prepare for the new daily routines a week or two in advance. Highlighting what will be different as well as the same will help your child know what to expect.
LEARN TOGETHER about what to expect:
- Go to events for new families like open house, orientation or support groups.
- Tour the new school with your child and explore the classroom.
- Read books about what to expect. See our list of recommendations below!
CREATE your new routine! Rather than waiting for school to change your day-to-day for you, prepare for the new routine in advance.
Before school starts:
- Adjust your child’s nap and bedtime to adapt for the new school routine and to ensure your child is getting the recommended hours of sleep.
- Adjust mealtimes to match the school schedule as much as possible.
- Have children help get ready for their first day — pick out clothes, pack a backpack and choose lunch or snack.
After school starts:
- Arrive on time to allow the child time to settle in. Go through daily routines, like putting belongings away.
- Plan and prepare for new or increased behaviors and/or regression which can be expected during a big transition.
- When possible, try to avoid introducing any new transitions. Spend more one-on-one time together and offer more affection & attention while they’re adjusting to the transition.
Using books to connect to real life is always a great strategy to prepare for change. Here are some books about starting school to help get excited: