The beginning of the school year can be an exciting, but also stressful, time for children and families. Some kids transition easily to a new classroom environment, new teachers, new peers and a new set of rules and expectations. However, some children have a very difficult time with these new changes, which can add unwanted stress and anxiety for the whole family. While planning ahead isn’t always easy, here are a few things you CAN do ahead of time if you have a child who has difficulty with transitions or changes:
- Communication. Speak with the teacher and/or principal before school begins or during the first few weeks of school. Kindly let them know that your child may have a difficult time, and that any form of communication from them during the first few weeks would be greatly appreciated. Be sure to also communicate with your child to prepare them for what to expect at school. Taking a “walk-through” of the campus and classroom the week before can make them feel more at ease when they walk into school on the first day.
- Routines. Begin a daily school routine with your child as early as possible. Clear ideas of what to expect during their day can help children adjust and transition more easily. What time to wake up in the morning, who will pick them up from school and when, and expectations for homework are all very beneficial.
- Space and Time. Setting aside a clean and quiet space, free from distraction, to do homework or read, is highly recommended. Also set clear guidelines for your child, such as “You will have 30 minutes when you get home to relax, and then it’s time for homework. When you finish your homework, then you can have 30 minutes of screen time.” Setting a timer can help so that there is no disagreement about how much time has passed.
- Outdoors. Allowing your child ample outside time each day can help ease the transition from summer to school time. Going from camp or playing all day in the summer to sitting in class for hours can be very challenging, even with recess and snack breaks at school. Take advantage of the warm weather and give your child time either before or after school to play outside, whether it’s on the playground at a park, at school, or at home. The sensory input they receive from simply running around, swinging, and jumping helps regulate their bodies so that they can focus when they need to.
Best of luck for a wonderful school year ahead!