A Great Start to the School Year

Group of Elementary Pupils In Classroom

After a relaxing summer, getting into the school routine can be a tough transition.  There are lots of small things to do to help the school year get off to a great start.

  • Good night, good breakfast and calm morning – Do what you can the night before including pack lunches, pick outfits and review the schedule. Have a morning routine that ends with a few minutes for something your child enjoys like legos or playing with the dog. It gives them something to work towards and gives you a time buffer. It may be helpful to be as routine about the mornings as you are about the bedtimes.
  • Take advantage of preview experiences – This might include visiting the schools website with your child, playing on their playground, and participating with home or early school visits. Anything to help your child feel familiar with their school.
  • Expect your child to be tired for at least the first several weeks – This may mean you’ll see more acting out or difficult afternoons. Good to lay low on outside activities as you can. It may be helpful to reinstitute an afternoon quiet time for a while.
  • Be on time – School is usually doing something predictable during the drop off window so children feel more comfortable. It helps your child to know what to expect as they enter. If you are late, the child has no idea what they are walking into. Being on time also ensures they are there for the morning planning time which can help a child feel settled.
  • Participate with school as you can – Be a room parent, volunteer to read or make play-doh, or send in party supplies. Your child sees that you value school which goes a long way towards their motivation.
  • Plan playdates – Good to have time with a wide variety of kids in the class, not just the favorite one or two. It broadens your child’s social network and at some point during the year they will likely have to work in class with everybody.
  • Ask more interesting questions – Many parents note children aren’t great at answering “What did you do at school today?” It’s helpful to ask different and more interesting questions each day like “Who did you sit with at lunch?” or “Did anything funny happen today?” Might also be helpful to wait and ask after they’ve had a bit of time away from school.
  • Read the Family Handbook – Schools work hard to write and update their manuals. So many of the questions you have throughout the year about school policies and calendars are answered in the handbook. Read it.
  • Remind them of previous positive transitions – Remind your child of how much fun it was to start at a new camp last summer or to join join a new soccer team. Tell upbeat stories about when you started school.
  • Read upbeat children’s story books about the start of school – Upbeat books include DW’s Guide to Preschool by Brown, What to Expect at Preschool by Murkoff, If You Take a Mouse to School by Numeroff, Kindergarten Here I Come by Steinberg and Welcome to Kindergarten by Rockwell.
  • Know the drop off and pick up policies – Share the plan for drop off and pick up with your child. As best you can, be sure they know where to go and what to do.
  • If there is separation anxiety – It can be helpful to learn about and have a real plan for separation. This may vary by age and by school logistics. Here is a link to a free 20 minute interview I gave about managing separation anxiety: http://www.parentsperspective.org/index.php?s=separation
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