Back to school transition can sound overwhelming. We all know that children and parents become anxious once they start seeing ‘back to school ads.’ Especially for parents who are starting their school years’ journey for the first time!
Below are some tips for first-time parents/caregivers who may be in the process of back to school transition.
1- Talk. Talk. Talk!
Have a conversation with your little one about how anxious you both are regarding this milestone. The month of August is a great time to start talking about school and the expectations that lie ahead. For example, you can explain how you will have new responsibilities as a parent such as, preparing lunches in the morning and being on time for school, while your child will also have new responsibilities such as getting ready in the morning and sitting down in class for instructional/circle time.
2- Read books about emotions
I know you probably thought that I’d tell you to read school-themed books but you know what’s even better? Talking about different emotions that may surface during the school year and how to cope with them. Start the discussion by talking about your school experience first. Children love it when they can relate to adults. Tell the story about your first day and highlight emotions rather than school rules and regulations (leave that for the teacher). Explain that they might feel new emotions and it may feel scary. The Feelings Book is a good place to start. Consider coping techniques such as happy thoughts, deep breathing, grounding, or even security items that are kept in their backpacks.
3- Brainstorm routines and set expectations for the home
Once the emotions are vetted, it’s time to set up some new school routines and expectations for the home. We all know things won’t look the same once school starts. There will be early mornings, lunch prep, scheduled bathroom visits, after school snacks, early bedtimes…etc
It’s a good idea to come up with a school routine together so that both of you know what to follow and what to expect from one another. Children thrive on predicting what comes next and routines are extremely helpful for this purpose. Follow up routines with clear expectations. Consider creating a chart that explains what they should expect from you and vice versa. You can take a look at the kids command centre we created here to help with this step.
4- Practice independent washroom visits!
I hate to break it to you but teachers will not help wipe your child’s bottom! Generally speaking, schools have a “no-touch” policy when it comes to this area. I highly encourage you to practice wiping at home with toilet paper as much as you can during the month of August. If you are finding the idea of having children wipe themselves too gross, then you must hop on the bandwagon of scheduled #2 visits. #yesitsathing
I walk you through the steps of independent washroom visits and scheduled #2 visits in this video!
5- Practice self-feeding
The number one complaint I get from parents as a teacher is about FOOD! Unfortunately, eating times are scheduled during school hours, which means your child cannot munch slowly on their food forever. The best thing you can do is to make fun self-feeding games by timing how long it takes them to eat a snack or lunch by using a cool kitchen timer. Try to refrain from helping them as much as you can. Explain that in school, they are responsible to finish their food all on their own. It’s even better if you pack them a snack or lunch during your summer outings to practice this concept and for you to get an idea of their progress.
I walk you through steps and strategies on how to help your child with their school lunch in this video from a teacher perspective.
Inhale and Exhale – You got this!
Finally, please don’t go out and buy all the things! I understand this is an exciting time for you and your child but most cool gadgets out there are useless. Nonetheless, I do encourage allowing your children to make their own backpack choices to foster confidence and independence as they start their school journey.
I took the liberty to prepare a practical back to school must-haves list that will ease your transition even further. Grab your copy here.