It’s that time of year again—time to start gearing up for back-to-school season! If you’re like most parents, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get your child ready for the new school year. Here are a few tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Returning to school after holidays can bring out emotions in our little ones as diverse as excitement and joy, to fear and anxiety. General worry about returning to school or just not “feeling up to it” is common.
Here are 7 Tips for a smooth back to school transition:
1. Establish a routine
To help transition smoothly from holiday to school mode, start easing back into the school routine 1-2 weeks before the holiday ends.
Re-establish healthy habits around sleep (9-11 hours for children aged 5-13). This includes a consistent bed and wake-up time too.
Try to ensure your little one gets around one hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, at least three times a week.
Eating can also get a little slack during the holiday period, so re-establish a healthy diet. Little brains need good nutrition to learn and grow (and emotionally moderate!).
2. Set up a Getting Ready chart
Establish, with your child, a schedule for getting ready on time for school. List the tasks they can do on their own, as well as the ones they need help with. You could include tasks such as:
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Pack a lunchbox
- Pack the backpack
- Make the bed
3. Talk with them about going back to school
Remind them that school will be starting soon with excitement. Be open to their feelings and listen to their concerns.
Children can experience some level of anxiety about school. Find out what concerns they have by asking directly.
You can offer support by normalising experiences of worry and nerves. Reassure your child the feelings they have are common and they will likely overcome them once they have settled in. Fear and courage can exist together. Let them know they can always come to you if their worries persist.
4. Help create a sense of school belonging
Lack of a sense of belonging at school can affect academic success and student well-being. Parents can facilitate positive attitudes about school by setting an encouraging tone when talking about it.
Also, show an interest in their school life and work, and be available to support your child academically and socially.
When parents are more engaged in their child’s schoolwork, they can better support them through it.
5. Look out for signs of stress
Research suggests parents can miss stress or anxiety in their children. Indicators of stress in your child (depending on age) may include:
- Is more clingy than usual or tries to escape from the classroom
- Appears restless and flighty or cries
- Shows an increased desire to avoid activities through negotiations and deal-making
- Tries to get out of going to school
- Retreats to thumb sucking, baby language or increased attachment to favourite soft toys (for younger students).
If these behaviours persist for more than a few weeks, talk to your child’s teacher or well-being coordinator about what is happening.
6. Encourage questions
Encourage questions your child may have about the next term. What will be the same? What will be different?
Often schools provide transition information. If the school hasn’t, you may consider contacting them to see if they can share any resources.
Most importantly, let your child know nothing is off-limits to talk about.
7. Set exciting goals
Setting goals gives children something exciting to look forward to:
- Start by discussing with your child the things they are already good at.
- Then ask what other things they would like to improve or become good at.
- Create a plan to help your children achieve their goals.
Use the Superpower Kids RESPONSIBILITY CHART Printable to get ready for school.