Back to School: 4 Ways to Ease the Transition

August 18, 2016

4 min read


How to navigate this tricky time of year.

It is that time of year again; the days are getting shorter and a bit cooler. The summer is sadly coming to an end and it is back to school for our children. Moving into the new school year can be a bit tricky. It is time to get back into a stricter routine and leave the lazy days of summer behind.

Here are 4 ways to help our children transition smoothly while maintaining an even keel.

1. Know it is hard:

This time of year is rough going no matter at what stage you are in the parenting game. Transition times need to be handled in gentle ways. So it is best to clear your schedule as best as you can. Take out your simplest recipes for dinner. Shopping will be high on your list of priorities: shoes, clothing and school supplies. Don't forget haircuts and doctor appointments that you pushed off all summer.

Sometimes, just being mentally prepared and bracing yourself for this period can be helpful.

2. Name Your Child’s Conflicted Emotional State:

Children usually experience two feelings about going back to school which can cause them to misbehave and act out. They are excited about going back to school but resistant to change their laid back schedule. To help ease the tension and improve their behavior we can help them express these sensations. Reflecting and naming the feelings they are experiencing is the best way to do that:

“It’s exciting that school is starting, but it is also hard because the freedom of the summer is ending. We’re getting ready for a fresh start, new books, new clothes, new shoes but we might not know what to expect new friends, new teachers or a even a new school. So it is kind of a happy/sad time of year.”

It is confusing for children to have contradictory emotions. Introducing them to the notion of experiencing two feelings at the same time can help children feel relieved, safe and understood, which in turn will help them behave better.

3. Help kids be responsible about their time:

This is the perfect time of year to teach children about taking ownership and responsibility of their routines.

We can let them know in advance that this is a tough time of year and extra cooperation will be needed.

“The next week is going to be busy with lots of shopping to get ready for school. We also need to get back onto our regular routine and regular bed times. Let’s figure out some ways that will work for our family. I want this to go as smoothly as possible.”

We also want to prepare them for our actual mornings when we need them to get off to school.

Don’t just say: “We are not going to have those rough mornings like we did last year! This year you will be getting out of bed when I tell you!”

Invite your children instead to think of solutions:

“Last year we had some issues getting out on time in the mornings. Do you have any ideas on how we can have calmer mornings?”

4. Be positive and grateful:

Whenever we do experience any of life’s difficulties, the small or big ones, it is important to keep our perspective. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me calm is practicing gratefulness.

Here are the simple things that I try to take note of that help me feel grateful:

  • I am grateful just to be raising my family with my husband.
  • My kids have a Jewish education freely available to them.
  • There is such a thing as online shopping.
  • My daughter’s school requires a uniform (less shopping for me!).
  • Any clean bill of health at my children’s checkup appointments (mine too!).

Getting ready for the school year doesn't have to be hard. Being prepared, naming your kids feelings, helping kids take ownership of their time and being grateful, can help.

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