Ideas for Back to School to Smooth the Transition

By Bethany Johnson in Healthy Feeling

August’s shorter days bring reminders of fall sports, crisp air, and the return to a school routine. If heading back to school conjures images of morning mayhem and anxious goodbyes, you’re not alone. Each year, families struggle to transition back into the swing of things. Not to worry—the adjustment doesn’t have to be chaotic. All you need is a back-to-school regimen that works.

The good news is there are many ways both kids and parents can start the school year head of the class. These practical tips can help get you started.


The first day of kindergarten is a big deal for both parents and youngsters. Whether he’s in a full or partial-day program, your child may experience excitement, apprehension, and uncertainty … all at once. To comfort him, plan on a few extra conversations in the weeks before the big day. Share small, encouraging tidbits about school with your child. Describe your favorite kindergarten memories from childhood, and remind your child of his older siblings, cousins, and friends who loved their earliest classroom experience. These bite-sized exchanges build a positive association and familiarity long before he takes that big first step onto the bus.

For an age-appropriate visual aid, help your child create a fun, personalized cubby near your front door to store their backpack and school supplies.

Elementary School

Nothing says back to school like a fresh pack of crayons. Now is the perfect time to involve your child in school supply shopping. According to the University of Minnesota, the power of choice is important to child development, communication, and learning. Letting kids pick out their own supplies is a great way to empower their decision-making skills and gear them up for back to school.

Find time for a playdate with friends at the school playground, drive by the bus stop, and add age-appropriate workbooks to summer reading time. This way, when it’s time to put pencil to paper once again, they’ll have a head start.

Streamline the school morning routine by adjusting your summer bedtime routine now. For example, have your child lay out clothes each night before bed. Another “night-before” routine to establish now is to have your child help you make lunch to store in the refrigerator overnight. That way, come crunch time, you’ll be out the door (minus the fuss) in no time.back to school

Middle School

The middle school locker can mystify new sixth graders. Bolster their confidence with practice on a combination lock before the first day. Mastering the technique will save them time, anxiety, and frustration at school.

Speed up the family morning by including your ‘tweens in the night-before preparation routine. Have them set out clothes, make a lunch, and gather their school items into their backpack. Then, take the regimen a step further with a personalized gratitude journal or yoga session for a regular emotional reset. Habits like this can center a young person, so no matter how good or bad a school day is, they have a steady ritual to rely upon.

High School

Your teens may have become night owls over summer. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, teens still need eight to ten hours of sleep per night.

Ease them back to a standard bedtime through incremental shifts over the last weeks of summer. This will make the adjustment to a school routine smoother, even if it’s not popular. An extra bonus? You won’t be making repeated trips to the bedroom to wake your groggy teen. Encourage reading books at night to lessen exposure to blue light from screens, or, if that’s just not happening, consider grabbing a pair of blue-blocking eye wear to ensure your young adult maintains a healthy circadian rhythm.

If you have a freshman this year, participate in orientation activities and early registration. This gives your child an opportunity to ask questions she may have. Even if your big kid seems self-sufficient, older children still need encouragement and support through transitions.

Back to school may always be a disruptive end to the dog days of summer, but you can put a damper on harried mornings. With a little prep work, your family will find its own rhythm and master the school routine to get you all out the door—with smiles. How does your family get ready for back-to-school season? Let us know all about it on Twitter.

Image sources: Flickr | Flickr

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Why It’s Good

The changing seasons is one of the best times to connect with and nurture your younger family members. Teaching kids about regular transitions doesn't have to be a struggle. The back-to-school transition is the perfect time to cultivate an adaptability in kids for a serenity that lasts. And it's tips like these that help you establish that kind of character.