Whether their summer was jam-packed with activities or filled with
complaints about being bored with nothing to do, kids often have a tough
time making the back-to-school transition.
Battling the Butterflies
As with any new or potentially unsettling situation - like starting
school for the first time or entering a new grade or new school - allow
kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous
about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday
routine in no time.
Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as
hanging out with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school
supplies, getting involved in sports and other activities, and showing
off the new duds (or snazzy accessories if your child has to wear a
It's also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer
reassurance: Are they afraid they won't make new friends or get along
with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out?
Are they worried about the bully from last year?
Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother.
If possible, it's especially beneficial for parents to be home at the
end of the schoolday for the first week. But many working moms and dads
just don't have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings
so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those
first few days.
If your child is starting a new school, contact the school before the
first day to arrange a visit. And ask if your child can be paired up
with another student, or "buddy," and if you can be connected with other
new parents. This will help both of you with the adjustment to new
people and surroundings. Some schools give kids maps to use until things
become more familiar.
To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a
consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also
make sure that they:
- Get enough sleep (establish a reasonable bedtime so that they'll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning)
- Eat a healthy breakfast (they're more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day)
- Write down the need-to-know info to help them remember details such
as their locker combination, what time classes and lunch start and end,
their homeroom and classroom numbers, teachers' and/or bus drivers'
- Use a wall calendar or personal planner to record when assignments
are due, tests will be given, extracurricular practices and rehearsals
will be held, etc.
- Have them organize and set out what they need the night before
(homework and books should be put in their backpacks by the door and
clothes should be laid out in their bedrooms)
Although it's normal to be anxious in any new situation, a few kids develop real physical symptoms, such as headaches
or stomachaches, associated with the start of school. If you're
concerned that your child's worries go beyond the normal back-to-school
jitters, speak with your child's doctor, teacher, or school counselor.
Read more on going Back to School.