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Back to School: 7 Tips and Tricks to Ease Your Child's Transition

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Can anyone believe it is back to school time? To many families, back to school means a time of stress and frustration. It can be incredibly difficult to transition from the free flowing days of summer to the structure and rigor of the classroom.

Getting into the routine may be met with some interesting behavior. It’s important to remember that no transition is going to be completely smooth, but there definitely ways to make it a bit less challenging.

Here are 7 tips and tricks to help ease the transition back to school.

  1. Keeping a routine is key: If you have not started already, it might be helpful to start getting a consistent bed time and wake up time similar to what it will be like in the school year. This will help not only set the expectation for when school begins, but also get your child’s biological clock on the right schedule. If you’re interested check out this cool resource on how to reset your circadian rhythm. #science!
  2. Calendar marking down the days: Some individuals may find it helpful to have a visual of when their vacation is over and school begins. Take time each day to cross the current day off with your child and remind them that the school year is starting soon. Creating a concrete picture of when “freedom” ends and the work begins can help some individuals.
  3. Take a trip to the school: If your child lives by the motto “I’ll believe it when I see it” set a time to go by the school and walk up to the front doors. Perhaps show them where they will enter each day or where the bus will drop them off. Practice walking from your home to the bus stop. Any combination of these types of activities can reduce problem behavior by simply exposing your child to the routine.
  4. Create a visual schedule or social story for the school year: By now you probably have some idea of who your child’s teacher may be or what classroom they may be in. If you have that information, write a social story about what the first day may be like. Focus on the positive aspects of starting a new school year: new friends to meet, a new teacher, learning really cool stuff and new school supplies!
  5. Prepare the night before: Nothing can be worse than scrambling the night before a big event. The night before school starts, make sure everything is in order: backpacks are made, lunches are ready to go, and breakfast is ready to be made in the morning. It’s quite a bit of extra work but the morning will likely flow better and the transition will be a bit smoother.
  6. Drop off and pick up place: As annoying or redundant as this may sound, having a specific place to put a jacket, backpack, and shoes can be an incredibly helpful way to establish a routine. Anyone ever watch Karate Kid with the jacket? It’s kind of like that. It not only provides a consistent routine, it provides a level of independence. Eventually you can say to your child "go get your shoes and backpack" and continue about your morning routine.
  7. Get into routines: Once the school year starts the transition does not fully end. Establish a few nightly routines to help keep things going strong. Have time set aside for relaxation time, homework, meals and extracurricular activities. Make sure that these times are consistent, but be flexible. You may have a homework-light night or just want to watch a movie as a family.

Unfortunately, there is no one simple way to help your child transition from summer vacation to school without any problems. With some planning and preparation the transition can be less difficult.

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