Tips for Going Back to School

by Lee Scott, Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member
Child works on craft project at table in preschool classroom

Wondering how you can make this year’s back to school routine a huge success?  Here are some tried and true steps: 

Routines are important. 

Getting back into a back to school routine is essential: 

Start these a few weeks before school.Set a time for waking up in the morning, create relaxing bedtime rituals, select clothing at night,  and talk about the first day of school expections.

Practice and roleplay.  

Explain what your child will do when he or she gets to his new school or classroom. Role–play the sequence at home. What will you do? What about the teachers and your child? Talk about the routines with your child. 

Make sure you connect with what your child is feeling and support helpful behavior.  

Research shows that when parents encourage children to talk about mental states including emotions, they are more likely to adjust to change and be helpful to others. Look for opportunities in your daily activities such as reading a book or watching a movie to highlight how characters are feeling (e.g., “How do you think that character was feeling?” or “How would you feel if that happened to you?”). This may help children talk about how they are feeling. 

Help your child adjust to the changes by managing expectations.  

One way to help your child adjust is to create a play plan. For example, children can draw or write activities they envision for their day. Those plans help children to think and act purposefully. Encourage your child to create a play plan before he or she goes to school to get in the habit of thinking about the day. It could help ease fears about what to expect and build excitement around doing favorite activities at school. When you are sharing a play plan, you can also talk about your child’s new classroom and teacher. Ask your child what he or she might expect from the new classroom or new routine. 

Reconnect with friends a few at a time.  

For some little ones, seeing peers in large groups might be a bit overwhelming Set up a time to get together with a friend. Plan a simple activity, such as a ball game outside or a board game or puzzle. 

Following these steps and building expectations will help your child make a smooth transition. Try not to worry and remember that many others are having the same experience. 

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