The dreaded back-to-school transition can be really tough for both kids and their parents. Thankfully we are going to be sharing the keys to help making this transition smooth and gentle. If you're not feeling prepared for the upcoming school year, don't panic or lose hope. We have lots of ideas to share with families and here are the ones we have found most helpful.
Acknowledge Your Feelings:
I understand how tempting it can be to bury and run from uncomfortable emotions like anxiety but that makes things so much worse. You will find it easier to remind yourself that feelings can come and go and to face your emotions rather than run from them.
Accept & Validate Your Child's Feelings:
It's important to let your child know that their feelings make sense and you should make sure your child understands that there is no such thing as a bad or wrong emotion. It's okay to feel your feelings.
Some ideas for that 'before school starts' list:
1. Ensure your child is in good physical health. Take advantage of the
extra time in the summer and have him/her see the doctor and the
dentist for a preventative checkup.
2. Mark your personal calendar with important dates like holidays and
3. Create a family calendar for all to see with everyone’s events marked;
clear communication helps cut down on family chaos.
4. Buy school supplies early and fill backpacks a week or two before
5. Go through your child’s closet to determine clothing needs. Designate
a budgeted amount that you can spend on each child and don’t
6. Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines a week before school
starts. Easing your child into change will allow for a less painful
7. Clear out a place for your child to do homework. Set aside an area in
the family room or kitchen that will facilitate adult monitoring,
supervision and encouragement.
8. Join the virtual 'Meet the Teacher' night! If your child can get to know
their teacher in advance, this will make him/her more comfortable
when they return!
9. Nurture independence. Involve them in some of the smaller decisions
to create ownership by letting them decide between two acceptable
choices. The more your child does, the more confident she/he will
10. Do a practice run. Try out the morning routine and route to
school a few times. This will determine how long it really takes your
child to gather everything and get out the door!
Some tips for 'The First Week of School':
1. Let your child wear his or her favourite outfit on the first day of school. Lay it out the night before!
2. Create a goodbye ritual. This could be anything from a special
handshake or hug.
3. Let your child bring a comfort item (if allowed by the school!). A little reminder of home could ease his or her separation anxiety.
4. Keep the first week of school simple. Be free to help your child
acclimate to the new school routine and any anxiety they may be
5. Make school lunches the night before. This will assist with stress-
6. Set aside 10-15 minutes before bed to talk with your child about their
days at school. Talk about your child’s most and least favourite things
While transitioning back to school is always difficult -- especially if you're a parent trying to get yourself ready and out the door to work or someone with multiple kids headed in different directions -- preparation and routine will greatly reduce the likelihood of a morning rush or meltdown.
Help your children feel optimistic by listening to their feelings and worries and validating them. At the end of the day, our kids need us to lead the way to a successful back-to-school transition to develop the skills they need to navigate challenges.
Set your days up for success by implementing these essential plan-ahead tips. And good luck everyone! Here's to a great start to another school year.