Last year was tough, and to say that school looked “different” would be an understatement. With that, more children than ever are demonstrating difficulty with the transition back to school for this year. Big transitions can be tricky, and they can bring up big emotions for our small humans. I wanted to provide a few school transitions ideas to help you and your family conquer the back to school nerves.
- Start early! Start talking about school a few weeks before the first day. You can talk about it at dinner, in the car, or incorporate it into play. Remind them where they go to school, what grade they are in, and who their teacher will be.
- Make a social story! Use actual photos from school if you can, bonus points if you have a photo of your child’s new teacher!
- Create your morning routine. Use a visual/written/auditory schedule, practice your routine or talk it out!
- Incorporate calming techniques into the routine. This can include heavy work (animal walks to the table, pushing the laundry basket across the hall, jumping jacks before breakfast, etc.). This can also include deep breathing techniques, fidget toys, music, and calming scents. My suggestion would be to come up with 3 calming techniques that you can incorporate into the morning. If your child is familiar with the zones of regulation or the alert program, this can be a great place to incorporate those visuals or terms.
- Practice school lunch! Those bento boxes are adorable, but can your child manipulate the closures? Give it a go, and don’t forget about the drink!
- If your child is worried about starting the school year, discuss the after school plan in the morning. Remind them how they are getting home (bus/pick-up/walk/etc.) and what they will do when they get there. This is another area where a visual or written or auditory schedule can help.
Above all, remember that big transitions can be difficult for all of us, no matter the age. Validating your child’s emotions and sharing in calming techniques can be very empowering and will help build your child’s confidence.