Tips for Transitioning to a New School Year

It feels like summer just started and here we are with shorter days reminding us that September is just around the corner.  While we may be looking forward to the Bay Area weather improving, it can be hard to make the transition back to a more hectic routine and schedule. For some of us, our children will be starting preschool for the first time or kindergarten.   Even the most enthusiastic students will likely have some fear and anxiety before starting something new.  Here are some tips to get the school year off to a great start!

  • Tighten up your routine before schools starts and during the start of the school year - keep things predictable and mellow at home.
  • Expect limit testing and be prepared to respond in a loving, but firm manner.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.  Anxiety can cause sleep disturbances, so be sure you are getting to bed on time and don’t be afraid to add a nap to your routine even if your child has outgrown it.
  • Eat healthy foods and have plenty of your child’s favorites on hard.  This is not the time to try new foods!  Excitement and anxiety can decrease appetite; so don’t be surprised if your normally good eater slows down at the start of the new school year. Crunchy foods like carrots, apples and pretzels can be calming for some children.
  • Talk to your child about what they can expect at their new school and visit if possible.  Kids handle information differently - some like to know every detail and for others, less is more.  Tailor your conversation content and frequency to meet your child’s needs.
  • Schedule play dates with classmates early in the year - connecting with their peers outside of school can help your child make friends more quickly and bridge the home-school connection.
  • Make a book about your new school with pictures of the school, class, teachers and classmates. Along with simple text this is a great tool for the especially anxious child.
  • Floor time!  Give your child lots of 1:1, child-directed attention.
  • Celebrate by buying a new backpack or schedule a special dinner on the first day of school.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher or director if you have any special concerns about your schools transition - a good ECE program will focus on bridging the gap between home and school during those first few weeks.

Before you know it this new routine will feel like old hat!!

-Barbara Nelson & Rebecca Walsh