10 August 2022
It is almost time for the 2022-2023 school year to begin. That will mean many schedule adjustments for the whole family. With a little thought and preparation, you can still make these last few weeks of summer fun and make the transition back to education easy.
First it is a good idea to try and anticipate any challenges that may be lying in wait. Most vulnerable are those who are changing school districts, as well as kiddos who are moving from home schooling into a traditional setting, and those who are moving from elementary to middle school. Even if there are no overt signs of anxiety or concern, take a few steps to make sure the adjustment is as smooth as possible.
If at all possible, take a field trip to the school. If you can access the playground area, that is great. It is even better if you can wrangle entrance into the building for a look around. You may not get any further than the office, but try anyway. The more the child sees of the school, the more comfortable they will be. Take advantage of orientation days and meeting teachers.
After the first week or so, you child should adjust fairly well. If not, make arrangements to meet with his or her teacher. When you speak, be calm and polite. You are the expert on your child but the teacher is the expert in the classroom. Explain the situation and your concerns and see if you can come to a mutual agreement or plan of action.
Kids can have difficulty making new acquaintences. Try to arrange playdates so that you can meet the other parents and the kids can at least have a name and face to associate with the new class.
Start conversations about what to expect including some fun things like singing or art. Encourage questions about what they think it will be like. Normalize any fears to the best of your ability. Reassure them that you will always love them even if you are not physically present.
If this is a first time for the child to leave for school, practice saying goodbye. Put a note in their lunch sack or give them a small token that will remind them of you or the family. Emphasize about how fun the experience will be.
If you will still have younger children at home, you will need to be alert for any jealousy. When discussing their day, emphasize how much more exciting it is to be meeting new people and learning new things than by staying home and doing the same old stuff over and over. Create a special time of at least 10 minutes when the child will have your undivided attention.
The practical elements include adjusting the sleep schedules. Children of elementary school age need between 9 and 11 hours of rest and sleep per night. They should be able to wake themselves and dress before it is time to leave for school. If you wait until the night before school starts, you may have a tired and cranky kid to deal with.
Finish any summer projects at least a week before school starts.
School supplies are dictated by the school district but if there are some color choices, let your child have a say.
Be sure to be a few minutes early for after-school pick up for a week or two after the start of the term. This can lessen anxiety.
As a parent, make sure you understand all the rules and regulations for school, which will help everyone manage expectations. That includes safety and health protocols.