It’s hard to believe how quickly the summer is disappearing. The days are flying by. Television commercials and store displays are featuring back to school sales, and you’ve got the itch to start getting the family back into a more regular routine. (Ok, let’s be real: getting everyone in bed before 9:00 PM would be a good start!)
If you have a young child who will be starting their school adventure or who is getting ready to return to school, it is time to start preparing for the change. For some children, this transition can cause anxiety and it can be tough on families to get used to waking up early, getting to bed early, and everything in between.
Below are some helpful strategies to help young children get excited about the new school year, cope with separation from you, and be ready for new routines.
Getting Oriented to School
- Attend your school’s open house or “meet the teacher” day. Explore the classroom, look at the books and materials, find out where children store their backpacks. Getting a copy of the daily schedule would be helpful too—you can review it together at home.
- Have a visual schedule and calendar so your child can see which days are school days and which ones are weekend days.
- Play school with your child. Take turns role playing the teacher, student, bus driver, and friend.
- Download the booklist below and together, read a few books about going to school. Ask your child about their hopes and dreams for the new school year.
Help with Separation Anxiety
- Pretend play with stuffed animals; you and your child can create scenarios of going to school and saying goodbye to parents.
- Set up a special goodbye ritual for carpool, a wave or a kiss. Make it special. Please be mindful that you will be in the carpool line. It is helpful to keep the good-bye short. The longer you linger, the harder it is going to be for your child to separate. Keep it simple. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will return. Then, depart as planned.
- Be consistent. Reassure your child that he or she will be just fine and the teachers will have planned plenty of fun activities at school. This will send a clear message to your child that you trust the adults and the school.
Connecting School and Home
- Send notes in your child’s lunchbox. It creates something for your child to look forward to.
- Designate a place to collect things that are needed for school—a special basket or cubbie near the front door that can hold important items for the school day.
- Help your child select a container and set up a station for storing drawing and writing materials that can be used for homework or other projects.