Back-to-School Transitions: Tips for Parents

Can you believe that it is August and that school starts in a few weeks?

You are probably wondering where the summer has gone.  It seems like only a few weeks ago that I wrote about preventing summer brain drain.  If you took advantage of the information on how to prevent brain drain and got your children involved in educational activities during summer break, then you have done well to get them in the game for the next school year.  But, if you just never got around to it, don’t beat yourself up because it’s a new year and an opportunity for a fresh start.  You are probably now thinking about buying school supplies and back to school clothes and that is great.  But take it a little further and begin to think about what changes need to be made to help your child get to be the great student that you know they have the potential to be.


Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically. The transition can be difficult for both children and parents. Even children who are eager to return to school must adjust to the greater levels of activity, structure, and, for some, pressures associated with school life. Here are some tips to help you:


Before School Starts:

Designate and clear a place and time to do homework and study. Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.  If your child’s school has and open house or orientation so that you can meet the teacher, take the opportunity and go.  It will send a clear message to the school that you are serious about your child’s education.


The First Week:

Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school.


Review your child’s schoolbooks. Talk about what your child will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects and your confidence in your child’s ability to master the content. Reinforce the natural progression of the learning process that occurs over the school year. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.


Overcoming Anxiety:

Let your children know you care. If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or book bag. Reinforce the ability to cope. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child. Let your child know that it is natural to be a little nervous anytime you start something new but that your child will be just fine once he or she becomes familiar with classmates, the teacher, and school routine.



Extracurricular Activities:

Go for quality, not quantity. Your child will benefit most from one or two activities that are fun, reinforce social development, and teach new skills. Too much scheduled time can be stressful, especially for young children, and may make it harder to concentrate on schoolwork. When evaluating extracurricular activities, consider your family schedule and personal energy level.


The degree of adjustment depends on the child, but parents can help their children (and the rest of the family) manage the increased pace of life by planning ahead, being realistic, and maintaining a positive attitude. Here are a few suggestions to help ease the transition and promote a successful school experience.


Hattie Grace is owner of Academic Excellence Tutoring Services and can be contacted at

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