3 To Do's for Back to School

Smooth Transitions

It's that time of year where summer break is winding down and the kids are still wound up.  Back to school shopping is in the air and there's a sense of angst mixed with excitement.  That's perfectly natural for kids. In fact, many parents may be feeling a bit anxious as well.  In all the hustle and bustle of the season, don't forget to do these three simple things to help smooth the transition for you and your kiddos.

Back to School

1) Know What to Expect

Knowledge is power - afterall, that's why they go to school, right? For kids, a lot of anxiety is really about the unknown.  There are fears about who the teacher will be, what he/she is like, where is the classroom, who are the other students in the class, etc.  Especially when it comes to going to a new building, all the uncertainty surrounding school can be overwhelming.  To overcome this, do a little research.  These days most schools have a website with lots of info to keep parents up to speed - review the school website, look at the school calendar of events/activities, etc.  Gather the available info.  Then, and this is the most important part, share it with your student.  My daughter actually has fun reviewing the website with me and getting a chance to click around on different parts of the site.

2) Volunteer

Volunteering to set up the classroom is an amazing way to help smooth school transitions with many additional benefits like getting to know the teacher personally and other parents that are involved in the class.  This allows you to feel like insiders.  It also provides a great opportunity to set up playdates with the children of other volunteers, so that your student has the comfort of a friend on the first day of school.  If your child is in early elementary school or just going off for the first time, he/she is used to having you around.  Even if you are not able to be at school every week, communicating to your child that you will be volunteering in their classroom gives them peace of mind.  With my schedule, I'm not able to be a regular classroom helper.  However, I do make it a priority to chaperone a couple field trips each year and attend special class events and celebrations. 

3) Start a Tradition

Having special back to school traditions eases the transition, and it's these small things they'll remember years later.  So often, we worry about having the right crayon box, backpack, supplies, etc.  While I can't remember much about my "stuff" from elementary school, I do remember certain moments.   It's those pictures on the front step, a special request breakfast that first morning, or ice cream to end the day.  Whether you give them a book, visit your old elementary school, or take them someplace fun as an end of summer excursion - these traditions ease the anxiety and foster a bond that lasts for a lifetime.  It takes a potentially stressful transition and gives everyone something to look forward to. 

What other back to school transition ideas have worked for you?