Back to School! Easing the Transition

Back to School! Easing the Transition

Summer is rolling on by and back-to-school season has already arrived. Going back to class can conjure up all sorts of thoughts and feelings for our children, let alone ourselves as parents! Excited anticipation or dreaded angst, September signifies a major time of adjustment for children and parents alike.The period from 5 to 8 years of age can be seen as a major turning point, as children experience separation from their parents in a more structured, formal way. Increasing pressure and expectations around academic and social functioning can make this a stressful time for children. Besides preparing for school with new backpacks and school supplies, there are many social and emotional ways we can support our children during this time of transition.

Bedtimes tend to be later and more relaxed during the summer months, but gradually making your way back to a more realistic bedtime before school starts can be extremely helpful for starting school refreshed. School-aged kids need 10-11 hours of sleep at night so keep this in mind as you plan for restful nights in the weeks before the first day of school. Good, consistent sleep habits will set the tone for a successful start to a new academic year.

Since your child’s teacher will be the primary adult responsible for your child during the daytime, it will be essential that you help your child develop a connection to their new teacher. Also known as matchmaking, introducing your child to their teacher and facilitating an emotional connection can reduce any anxiety about being in a new class (and away from you). It sends the message to your child that you and the teacher are working together and are both part of the nurturing village involved in their growing up process. Perhaps seeing a photo of the teacher in advance can be helpful, if this is available. Being intentional about setting up an introduction, however short, can facilitate the start of a caring relationship

Developing (or reintroducing) some rituals around hellos and goodbyes can also be helpful. Maybe a special way of saying goodbye, surprise love notes in lunch boxes, a special item your child can take with them as a small memento that serves to help them feel close to you while apart, these can all make the long days go by more easily. Special family dinners can also create a sense of anticipation for your child while they are at school (i.e. taco Tuesdays). Looking forward to reconnecting with you (their safe haven) after the separation is key to softening the process of being apart.

Finally, it will serve your child well if you are connected to their teacher too. Making a point of meeting them and having regular communication will help the teacher understand the ins and outs of what makes your child tick can help set the stage for more growth and development to occur and for your child to flourish.

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