Tips and strategies for the back to school transition
The end of summer brings about many changes for kids. It can be helpful to proactively implement tools and strategies to support them during this difficult time. Here are some quick tips that might make the transition a bit easier for your child:
Make a calendar leading up to it
Draw a picture of a home on the days when the child will be home and draw a picture representing a school on days when there is school. Using visuals is helpful for executive functions, so definitely use pictures rather than just words.
Give yourself extra time in the mornings to get ready
Children are very perceptive of our demeanor and mood. Increased pressure and frustrated feelings can lead to more difficulty making the transition. Allotting more time than needed can be helpful to make it an easier, calmer transition.
A social story is a tool used to share new or challenging information with a child in a safe and familiar manner. The story can include real pictures of the child and be tailored to their situation and worries.
Previewing parts of the day or people they may meet
The opportunity to look ahead at their day can ease the uncertainty or worry that a child might have about what is to come. You could make the child a picture schedule to outline the different parts of the day (e.g., circle time, centers, music, home).
It might also be helpful to show a child pictures of their teachers to give them an idea of who they will be spending the day with.
Preview and/or practice the morning commute prior to the start of school
If you have the time or ability to do it, try “acting out” the morning commute. Actually go through the steps it takes to get out of your home, in the car or on public transport and then to the school. This gives your child the chance to walk through the steps of the commute without the pressure of actually having to stay just yet.
Read back-to-school books
Books are a great way to preview feelings and thoughts that might come up when starting school. They also provide a dedicated space to talk about school, by connecting with the characters.
The transition back to school can be challenging! Acknowledging this challenge and positively praising children (e.g., “You went right into the classroom today, that was really brave!”) can go a long way!