From Summer to School: Top Tips for Transitioning Your Little Ones

As school supply lists are distributed and classroom teachers announced, many parents are beginning to think about the new school year. Some may be a little nervous about how the transition from summer to school will go for their child, and we have a few simple tips that could help.
Set routines, but be flexible with the timeline. 
Following routines for mealtimes and bedtimes that are in sync with your child’s upcoming school schedule is not new advice. We all know that getting their bodies adjusted to a new rhythm can make for a smoother transition to morning alarm clocks and scheduled meals. But there is no particular rule of thumb for when you should begin implementing the routine. Begin when it makes the most sense for your child. If they take a long time to get used to new things and fall into new patterns, begin about a week or two before the start of school. If they can easily switch gears, don’t rush it. They may just need two or three days to get used to the new rhythm.  

Help them develop independence. 
Being able to do things for oneself develops a sense of confidence and control that can mitigate nerves in any situation. This holds true for kids as they begin a new school year. You can help even the youngest children with their own independence by showing them how to take responsibility for themselves. Your two-year-old can decide which swimsuit to wear to the pool, whereas your six-year-old can pack their own pool bag. The littlest campers can choose the fruit they’d like to take in their lunch for camp, and older kids can be responsible for packing the entire healthy meal. The key is for parents and guardians to guide this process along the way. 

Make it fun!
Have you ever felt like planning an activity was just as fun as the activity itself? The same can be true for school. From choosing a new lunch box to planning the first-day outfit, find out what excites your child and make those things celebratory. Bake a special treat together to pack for lunch, or decorate a folder they can use in the classroom. Talk about what makes school just as fun as summer, like being able to play on the playground every day and having a whole library of books to choose from. Whatever motivates your child, link those interests to anything school-related.

Remember, tears happen. 
Back-to-school time is a transition for everyone––children, families, and even teachers! It is normal for your child to be nervous, sad, and even cranky. Acknowledging these feelings and providing comfort goes a long way. It’s tempting to try to talk a child out of their feelings or express dismay at negativity, but sometimes they just need to be seen. Let them know that you can sense they are upset and ask what would help. An extra hug? To play a game? Some space? Be accommodating to these needs and provide them the reassurance that everyone has those feelings and that they are only temporary. 

Keep communicating.
If drop-off tears continue past the first few days of school, connect with the teacher to see how your child fares throughout the day. Most of the time, students are carefree as soon as they make it to the classroom, but parents and guardians only see a child in tears walking into the building. Keeping the lines of communication between home and school open can provide great relief if all is well or an opportunity to create a plan if a transition seems to be taking too long. Your child will not always be able to articulate what happens once they are at school, but their teachers and other school administrators are professionals who can partner with you to make sure they are thriving. 
Please Note: Our news items are grouped by calendar year. 

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