How to Help Kids Transition Back to School This Fall
You may already have noticed that crayons, notebooks, and pencils are replacing coolers and water balloons on store shelves. It’s time for a reality check: summer is coming to an end, and our kids will soon be returning to the classroom.
But summer’s end doesn’t have to be painful — for you or for your kids. Here are some easy ways you can help your children, their teachers, and their child care providers make the transition from summer to school.
Reset Sleep Schedules
One of the biggest changes that kids will experience is a shift in their daily routine. In summer, children are often allowed to sleep in and go to bed later than during the school year. As both a mother and early childhood educator, I always strive to get my children back into the swing of the school schedule a couple of weeks beforehand. Getting them up earlier and making sure they are in bed earlier at night makes the transition to our school routine so much easier!
- Check out these practical ideas for back-to-school bedroom routines from dsm4kids.
- Find 20 tips for a smooth back-to-school transition from SignUpGenius.
Talk & Read Together
In early August, my kids and I spend time talking about new students, new teachers, and a new classroom. We read several books related to school, classmates, and change that facilitate these conversations.
Here are some of my favorites books to read at this time of year:
- “A Letter from Your Teacher: On the First Day of School” by Shannon Olsen
- “Chairs on Strike” by Jennifer Jones
- “Dear Teacher: A Funny Back To School Book For Kids About First Day Jitters” by Amy Husband
- “What Teachers Can’t Do” by Douglas Wood
- “The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others” by Bob Sornson
- “What Should Danny Do? School Day” by Adir Levy
Consult your local librarian for more great recommendations.
Count Down the Days
As adults, we may view going back to school as a humdrum annual routine, but our children can find it stressful and intimidating. One way to ease their anxiety is to count down to the first day of school on a cute calendar, like you might for Christmas or their birthday.
Keep in mind that your attitude toward this transition can have a tremendous impact on how your child views going back to school. It may be stressful finding time to buy school supplies or sign up for fall activities, but try not to focus on those worries. Instead, share one positive thing about school on each day you count off together.
Take Advantage of the Final Weeks of Summer
With a few weeks left until school starts in Kansas, you’d be surprised by how much you can fit in. Choose one or two things to focus on each week.
- Keep kids’ minds engaged at home so they’re ready to use their brains when school starts.
- Evaluate your child’s growth and development using this handy chart. But keep in mind that each child develops at their own pace.
- Prepare your young child to start preschool or kindergarten.
- Go beyond school supplies and focus on school-readiness skills.
- Make a plan to reinforce what’s taught in school or child care.
- Get in some precious playtime together.
Communicate with Your Child Care Provider
As children transition back to the classroom, many will also be heading back to child care before or after the school day. Providers will be welcoming these children back and establishing a routine that works for everyone.
Help your child care provider through this hectic time by communicating about schedules in advance. Creating a documented schedule (whether in writing or on a calendar) will make things much simpler for your provider.
Your child may find it easier to return to the program slowly. If your provider can accommodate it, consider taking your child to care a couple of days a week before school starts — visiting during the timeframe they will be attending, such as late afternoon.
Supporting our children and their providers with calendars, communication, and a positive attitude will make transitioning back to school easier and less stressful for everyone involved.
Back-to-school season is the perfect time to revisit your parenting strategies. Child Care Aware® of Kansas offers dozens of child development resources to explore as you start a new year.