Transitioning From Summer to School

It is hard to go back to work.  When my administrative assistant or I take a vacation, on our first day back we always look at each other and say, “Re-entry is brutal.”  The same is true for your children.  Going from one routine to another requires time to transition.  When they go back to school, they are going back to work.  In preschools, we know that transition times are challenging.  We have songs we sing before snack time.  We give the children plenty of warning before it is time to clean up and go outside.  When we are outside, we talk about going in for at least 5 minutes before we actually attempt to go.  Make going back to school gentler with a routine of transition.  After each break of more than a few days, have a plan that you always adhere to and is predictable.  The longer the break, the longer the transition time should be.  Here are some back-to-school suggestions:

  • Put down the computer and go to the stores.  I understand the ease of internet shopping.  I know there are cyber-bargains.  Resist!  Spending a fun day buying things for school helps to transition your child.
  • Buy special items that are saved for the first day of school.  When I was a girl, everyone had “back to school shoes.”  It was very common to buy shoes in August that were kept in the box until the first day of school.  I couldn’t wait to wear my new shoes.  It gave us something to look forward to that was connected to the first day of school.  Today, my peers and I talk about the years of “back to school shoes” fondly.  I hope you will buy a pair for your child or find something else your children love – clothing, backpack, accessories – and keep them in the box.
  • Gradually get back to a school year routine before it starts.  Summer brings flexibility.  Children can stay up a little later and sleep until whenever they wake.  Weeks before returning (or days if it is a shorter break), get back to stricter bedtimes and waking to an alarm.  Help your children to adjust to the school schedule by getting their bodies adjusted to the correct sleep routine.
  • Tell stories about when you went to school.  Our children love our stories.  When we share positive memories about school, we are an example of enjoying education.  Our attitudes have a tremendous impact on how our children view their world.  They need to know that we know that school can be both challenging and fun.  Our stories teach them that we weren’t always adults – we were also students who had similar experiences to theirs.
  • Give your children permission to be anxious.  The year ahead is filled with unknowns and unknowns make us nervous.  The worst thing that you can do is to tell them that they have no reason to be scared.  They do have a reason.  They are starting something new and don’t know what it will look like every day.  If your children are anxious, tell them that it is perfectly normal.  Assure them that you also get scared when something new is starting.  Tell them that when they are feeling scared, they should take a few deep breaths because that will help them to be brave (and reverse the physiology of fear thus allowing them to think clearer). For more information about separation anxiety, see the links below this article.

Have a terrific school year filled with laughter, listening, patience, purpose and kindness.  Before you know it, the lazy days of summer will be back.



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