Preparing for Back to School: How to Help Your Kids Make the Transition from Summer to the School Year

| Kathy Caputo, LCMHCA

Where did summer go? I feel as if I blinked and school is starting again. Do you feel the same? Summer was always my favorite time of the year. No school, no bedtime, being outside all the time, running around with no shoes on, and watching baseball on TV, yes, please. So if we had a hard time transitioning, how do we make it easier for our kids?

  1. Start the transition early. A week or two before school starts begin your school schedule. Wake your child up a little earlier every day until you make it to the time they will have to get up for school. Start serving dinner or lunch at the time that they would eat for school. Create a schedule for your child that is easy for them to follow. Pictures can be key for younger children.  
  2. Create a safe space for your child. Kids have a hard time with transitions even when we help them. Your child may have big feelings about returning to school. Let them know it is ok to have big feelings. If your child says to you “My teacher is a meanie.” Say something that gives your child space to talk about this. Remember, even if you don’t like your child using the word meanie, it’s more important in the moment to find out why they picked that word and not to focus on the word itself. “Ok, your teacher is a meanie. Tell me what makes them a meanie?” Also, keep in mind that the best way to engage your child is to engage them in an activity they enjoy. Play a game with them, watch their favorite Youtube video, and ask them questions about their day as you do that.
  3. Create a self-care routine for your child. Some of my favorite activities are coloring, dancing, riding a bike, baking, and drawing. Choose the thing that your child likes the most and create time in your schedule for this activity. It could make a good buffer between school time and after-school activities.
  4. Reach out to your child’s teacher. Make sure to reach out to your child’s teacher to introduce yourself. Let them know that you want to partner with them to create the best school year possible for your child. Ask how your child’s first week went. Set up a regular check-in time with your child’s teacher.  
  5. Check your own emotions. Children are sensitive to the emotions of their grownups. If you are anxious about school your child can be also. Create self-care activities for yourself and connect with friends and family to let them know you will need some support. If you feel yourself getting short or angry with your child do a quick internal check. Is this about them or me?  

It is always good to ask for help when you need it. I am available for children and adolescents but we also have providers who see adults.

Visit the Third Wave website for more information and to make an appointment. 

Today's the day to make a change.