12 Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to School

Back to SchoolEvery summer is a precursor to a new school year. Whether you and the kids are eagerly anticipating the first day, nervously awaiting it—or a little of each—parents, teachers and kids all benefit when you provide a smooth transition back to school. To help everyone seamlessly transition from summertime to school time, follow these 12 tips.

1. Attend Pre-School Events. Most schools provide opportunities for incoming students to meet the teacher and tour the school prior to the first day. Be sure to attend these events so that your child can explore the school building, check out her new classroom and get some face time with her teacher and soon-to-be classmates.

2. Arrange Play Dates. Consider hosting a few get-togethers with the families in your neighborhood who have children attending the same school or better yet, ask the school for a class list so you can organize a back to school party for your child’s class. Knowing she’ll see a few familiar faces in her classroom on her first day of school will go a long way in boosting her comfort level and lowering her anxiety.

3. Polish Up On School Skills.  Now is the time to reinforce the skills and concepts your child has learned over the last year.  If she was working on addition and subtraction, now is the time to review key concepts.Be sure to create reading opportunities each day and if you were supplied a summer reading list, be sure that it’s completed before school starts.

4. Role Play. Each school year will bring new challenges. If your child is heading off to school for the first time, you’ll want to be sure she’s able to communicate her needs to the teacher, like her need to use the bathroom. If she’s a bit older, you’ll want to be sure she’s able to deal with peer pressure effectively. Role playing gives you the opportunity to act out scenarios with your child so that she can practice navigating them with you before she encounters them on her own.

5. Get Into the School Routine Early. Don’t wait until the first day of school to begin getting up with the alarm. A week or so before school starts begin implementing your back to school routine.Remember, well-rested kids do better in school, so choose your child’s bedtime carefully to ensure he gets adequate sleep.

6. Plan Your Lunch Menu. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to pull a last minute lunch together when the cupboards are bare.  Make yourself a weekly lunch menu that can double as a grocery shopping list and a packing list.Prepare lunches the night before to avoid having to make them during the morning rush.

7. Do a Trial Run.To be sure you’ve left enough time for everyone to get up and out in the morning, do a trial run a few days before school starts. Get everyone up, dressed, fed and out the door and see if you make it to school on time. Driving the bus route can help kids become familiar with it and can help to increase their comfort level when they ride the bus for the first time.

Sign Up 8. for Extracurricular Activities. Whether it’s Girl Scouts or fall soccer, sign your child up for an activity that she can do with her peers. In addition to giving her something fun to do, you’ll set the stage for her to build and deepen relationships with her schoolmates.

9. Set Up a Study Center. Once school starts you’ll want to have a set space for your child to do her school work. Choose a well-lit area that is free from distractions. Have an in and out box available for her to place and pick up items that need your attention and be sure that there is a set place to store her backpack and books, so you’re not left going on an early morning scavenger hunt for missing items.

10. Gather School Supplies. Be sure that your child has everything she needs to succeed in school. Most teachers will provide a list of items your child needs prior to the first day. You can expect a backpack, a few notebooks and folders, an assignment notebook and a bunch of pencils to be included in the basics. Younger kids may need glue sticks, scissors and other basic supplies while older kids may need graphing calculators and a tablet or notebook.

11. Look For Ways to Get Involved. Parent involvement can significantly impact school performance. Look for opportunities to get involved in your child’s school. Join the PTA, volunteer in the library or sign up to be the classroom parent.  If you can volunteer during the school day, ask the teacher for other ways you can help out. From formatting the classroom newsletter to helping prepare classroom materials, most teachers are grateful for any and all help they receive.

12. Pick Out a First Day of School Outfit. For many kids, there is hardly a more important thing about heading back to school than what they are wearing on the first day. Take part in the time honored tradition of carefully selecting the first day of school outfit with your child. When she looks her best, she’s bound to give it her best.