It’s back-to-school season and no matter how old your child is, the transition can be intense. It’s filled with nerves, excitement, and often big adjustments. Whether your child is starting a new school or a new grade, use these tips to make the transition as smooth as can be:
It can be tricky to spark conversations about back-to-school feelings, but books are a great jumping off point. Check out these 5 Books to Ease Back-to-School Nerves and pick a few to share with your child. For kids who are entering preschool or kindergarten, just seeing classrooms can be helpful (Can you imagine how abstract school must seem if you’ve never been in one before?) Looking at the pictures in these books can help your kids picture where they will be spending their time.
It’s normal to feel nervous. Listen to your child’s feelings without trying to fix them. Tell your kids that even teachers get nervous about the first day of school. As parents, our job is not to make the nerves go away, but to give our kids tools to deal with stressful situations. Talk about any kids you may know who will be in your child’s class, share anything you know about the school/teacher and practice deep breathing. Think of this time as an opportunity to share calm-down strategies that your child can use throughout life. Looking for more activities to teach social-emotional awareness? Check out our Feelings Pack.
Talk About Transitions
Sometimes kids feel big feelings but don’t have the words to talk about them. When you normalize nervous, you show kids that it’s okay to have big feelings. Talking about transitions can help them understand why these feelings are coming up. Tell your kids that it’s normal to feel nervous about a new class and/or a new school. Talk with them about times where you’ve been through transitions. Before school starts, point out that the hardest part if often not knowing exactly what the new situation will be like. After the start of school, talk about how it takes time for people to settle into new routines.
Make Room for Movement
Not all kids are talkers. No matter how hard you try, some kids just won’t want to put their feelings into words. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling exhausted by the back-to-school rush. Help kids burn off nervous energy with movement! When school starts, spend time checking in after school, but also make time for swimming, running, and jumping. After summer days outside, being back in the classroom can seem stifling. Help your kids find time to run free.
There are all sorts of ways to express feelings. Making art is another wonderful way to help kids share and process their emotions. Try making time for open-ended art projects before and after the start of school. Just like finding time to move, making art gives kids the opportunity to express themselves and release the big feelings that come with the start of the school year.
More than anything, make sure you’re modeling excitement about the transition back to school. School is awesome, so even if you’re wistful for long summer days, try to keep things positive. Having big feelings doesn’t mean kids can’t have fun with the start of school. Hold space for your kids to deal with the transition, then celebrate the new school year!