With summer winding down, it means that school is right around the corner. Learn ways to lessen the stress and tips to help your child transition to the school year.
Common worries about going back to school
Your child may have a variety of fears about school starting. Common fears in 5- to 8-year-olds include: separation from parents, not making friends and getting lost. These fears are normal.
As a parent, you might also have some fears and worries about your child starting school. Be sure to manage your own stress to ensure you don’t pass it on to your child.
How to lessen the stress and worrying
Listen to your child’s worries without being dismissive. Instead of saying, “There is nothing to worry about. You’ll be fine,” try saying, “I know that’s hard. I can see you feel scared because …”
Be sure your child knows it is OK to be nervous or worried.
Back-to-school transition tips
Use the following tips and suggestions to make the transition back to school successful for your child.
- Take a tour. Help your child get comfortable with the school and the classroom. If possible, visit or take a tour of the classroom. If you can’t get into the building, make time for your child to play on the playground.
- Talk with your child. Find out what he or she is excited about and worried about. Include your child in brainstorming ways to make this transition easier. “Let’s think of some ways I can help make going back to school easier for you.”
- Start adjusting schedules. To help everyone move into the school routine, gradually adjust your family schedule. Start moving up your child’s bedtime and wake-up time by 10 minutes every few days until it matches typical school-time schedule.
- Establish morning routines. Consistency and predictability will eliminate stress. Start the morning routine a few days before school starts. Your child may benefit from a picture schedule showing the morning tasks such as getting dressed, eating breakfast and brushing teeth. Let your child draw the pictures of each morning task and help in deciding where to hang the morning schedule.
- Practice runs. Try practice runs to see how long it takes to drive your child to school. If your child walks to school or to the bus stop, walk it together to learn the route and the time needed.
- Prepping the night before. Have clothes picked out and lunches packed the evening before. Designate a location for morning items such as school bags, shoes and coats. Help prepare your child by talking about the morning routine the night before.
Going back to school can be a stressful time for you and your child. Practicing these tips can help your child transition to school successfully and can limit feelings of stress and worry.