Back-to-School for Every Age

Empty class room of elementary school

Empty class room of elementary school

The countdown to back-to-school has finally arrived. The childcare professionals at Celebree Learning Centers discuss how you can help your child get acclimated to the new routines that come with the back-to-school season.

Whether it’s your first “first day,” or you’re a seasoned veteran of back-to-school preparation, there are specific ways to help your child feel more comfortable as school time approaches. Establishing clear rules and a consistent routine can lead to a calmer and more organized environment for your child.

If You Have an Infant

Having an infant at home in addition to other children attending school or childcare, can be a difficult transition from the summer. During June, July and August, you may have had more time to accomplish things than you will when the school year begins. This includes spreading your time and attention evenly between children.

As school time approaches, your school-age children may begin to feel jealous that their little brother or sister gets to spend more time with you during the day. In order to ease these feelings, give a gift of school supplies to your child from your infant. Purchase the supplies, wrap them up and explain that they are a gift from their baby sister or brother. This will help to subdue any animosity that arises from these jealous feelings. With a new baby in the home, it’s important to show extra affection to the other children.

Remember that back to school season is primetime for new germs. Being so, it is important to remind your children to wash their hands as soon as they come home during the week, especially before touching the baby. Schoolrooms inevitably have germs floating around, so it’s essential that your children stay clean.

Toddlers

Toddlers may require a discussion before going off to childcare for the first time. Explain to them what they can expect before attending and be sure to answer any questions your child might have. Toddlers tend to respond better when they are more involved, so try to include them in the school conversation from the beginning in order to make this change more comfortable.

During the first days of school, your toddler may be hesitant when it comes to entering the classroom. Consider speaking with the teacher to see if it’s permitted for your child to bring something familiar in with them. Your child might not even wish to take out their “ducky” or “blankey” while in the classroom, but knowing that it is sitting comfortably in their backpack might be just enough assurance.  

When children feel as though they are helping to create reasonable rules, they develop a sense of responsibility and are more inclined to follow them. After playtime, ask your child, “What should we do with our toys now?” Together, you can come up with a rule in which everyone puts away the things they are no longer using. Encourage your child to maintain the rules even if they don’t directly pertain to them. For instance, after cooking a meal, ask your child, “What should mommy do with these pots and pans after using them?” In doing so, you are enabling the child to develop critical thinking skills that they  can also apply in a school setting.

Preschool/Kindergarten

A new school, longer days and larger class size are some of the challenges that a new kindergartener may face. This requires a period of adaptation and support from parents. During this time, it’s important to encourage positive behavior when displayed by your child as they will start to spend more time with children of the same age.

Once children reach age five or six, they begin to experience more complex cognitive developments that allow reasoning and understanding of the purpose for rules and routines. Encourage your child to ask questions and discuss their experience throughout this phase. Foster a comfortable space where they can open up about how they feel about the rules and routines that they have to follow, and clarify why such rules are in place. Once children begin to acclimate to the established rules and routines, they start to act more independently.

School Age

For your older children, a new school year can come with many stressors. Be there for your child when they feel overwhelmed, and do all that you can to help them feel prepared before their first day. Establishing a bedtime and wake-up routine in advance can help to prepare the whole family for the coming school year. One or two weeks before school starts, try to set up bedtimes and wake-up times that match the school season.

Touring the school and school grounds before school begins may help your child to feel more comfortable in their new environment. If possible, have your child meet with a friend that has already had experience in the school. Chatting with a familiar person about the process and changes may also help to ease their worries. Additionally, take this time to connect with other parents who may be interested in scheduling playdates and carpools ahead of time.

Overall Tips

Although each age group differs as far as processes and school expectations, there are common practices that can benefit children of all ages:  

  • Avoid last-minute preparation. Your child will feel much better if they begin school knowing what to expect, and have had practice far in advance.
  • Meet the teacher. One of the biggest fears of any child is whether or not they ‘will like their teacher.’ Having a short conversation with the teacher before school starts is a sure way to ease any fears. Consider attending an open house or back-to-school night.
  • Keep organization throughout the year. With a new schedule, new friends and many more activities, it’s hard to keep up. Try your best to keep a calendar that is easily seen in a common living area in your home. Staying on top of appointments, soccer games and playdates will prevent any surprises and undue stress.

Back-to-school season is a great opportunity to teach your children that change can be a good thing. Remind them that you are all in it together, and that anything they feel uncomfortable with will be a hurdle you’ll get over together. For more information on back-to-school practices, contact the child development professionals at Celebree Learning Centers today.