Preparation and Routines: 6 Tips for a Successful Back to School Transition
Over the next few weeks, millions of children across the country will exchange those laid-back summer vibes for the excitement of the back-to-school season. And no matter how often they and their parents have made the transition, there seems to be almost always a mixture of nervousness and uncertainty about what the new school year will bring.
To help parents better prepare their children and themselves for going back to school, we asked some of our education experts about what parents should do to ensure their child has a smooth transition back to school. Two major ideas that kept coming up were preparation and routines. Both are crucial to establishing good habits and helping children adapt to new surroundings.
Below are six tips to help your child prepare for going back to school and establishing routines.
How to Prepare Children Going to a New School
Jana Morgan Herman, Director of Montessori Education at Endeavor Schools, gives these three tips on preparing children for starting a new school:
Speak positively to other adults about the school and teachers so your child overhears
While speaking to your partner or another adult, talk about something the teacher might have in common with your family. This gives your child the idea that you like and trust their teacher, which helps them feel safe.
Here’s one way to do it: “I heard that the new teacher likes camping, and I thought that was cool because we do, too! I wonder where she likes to camp.”
Tell your child what will happen on the first day
A simple way to help children reduce any anxiety or nervousness they may be feeling about starting a new school is to tell them what will happen. This enables them to visualize what they will soon be experiencing.
For example, say something like this: “On Monday, you’ll go into the room, meet new people, learn some new activities, eat lunch, take a nap, play outside, then I’ll pick you up at 3:30.”
We all like to know what to expect when going somewhere for the first time, and children are no exception.
Have brief, happy, and confident goodbyes
In a new situation without their grownups, children might be anxious or unhappy until they adjust. Our instinct is usually to tell them they will be fine and will have fun (which may not be true!). However, another approach is to build the child’s confidence when you say goodbye for the day.
When departing, say, “I love you. I know you love me. You’ll be safe. I’ll see you at 5:30.”
Be calm, smile, and try to keep yourself together until you leave the building, so as not to upset your child or someone else.
Usually, children settle in and find something to focus on, and your calm and confident manner will help ease their transition.
And the “I love you, I know you love me,” part is important as it is common for children to be sad that they didn’t tell their grown-ups that they love them. Adding that in for them eases their minds.
How and Why to Establish Routines
Kelsey Padarath, Director of Inclusive Practices at Endeavor Schools, gives these three tips about the importance of establishing routines:
Establishing routines benefits children in many ways. From developing good habits like time management skills to affirming their trust in parents and teachers, routines are highly important for children going back to school and succeeding in their education.
Set a timer during prep time before going to school
Using a physical timer, either an actual clock or an app on your phone, set it for five or ten minutes before you must leave for school. Show the child the timer so they can visualize the time to complete what they need to before leaving. Once that timer expires, it’s time to go. This will help children get into the school routine while developing good time management skills.
Create a Fun Morning Ritual
Whether it’s singing a song together or even just a special handshake, having a fun morning ritual is a great way for parents and children to establish a connection. For some children leaving their parents for the day can be stressful. But a light and fun morning ritual can put a smile on their face as they feel that special bond.
Be Consistent with the Morning Routine
Consistency is the key. This not only helps to establish the routine, but it teaches children good habits while also helping them feel comfortable and develop independence.