Beating the Back-to-school Blues

by Amy McDermott

Amy McDermott is a FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow. She splits her time here at Jumpstart as a Program Associate in the Boston Office and a Site Manager at Boston College. Amy is also a Jumpstart Alum and served at Boston College from 2010-2012.

It was a Jumpstart session day last spring and five-year-old Raffi was wearing pressed khaki pants and a bright blue button-down collared shirt. “Raffi you look so nice today, are you dressed up for any reason?” I asked. “I have my interview for kindergarten and I am going to be on my best behavior” he proudly boasted.

Choking up a little, I was extremely proud to think of Raffi moving on to kindergarten. After two years in Jumpstart, Raffi’s Corps member partner Jeff recognized that he had “blossomed into a socially engaged, inquisitive, academically inclined student who would be fully prepared for the challenges of kindergarten.” All dressed up and excited for kindergarten, Raffi knew he was ready for this next adventure.

However, for many children and their parents, this transition can seem a bit daunting. Back-to-school time can bring a big wave of mixed emotions – sadness over the end of summer, excitement for reconnecting with classmates, and a bit of uneasiness adjusting to a new routine and taking on new challenges.

For those of you who are lucky enough to still be enjoying the last few weeks of summer, here are some tips for a great start to the new school year:

1. Talk with your child everyday about the start of school. Explain to them some of the new activities they will do, what the new school is like, and what the schedule will be. The more they know, the more interested and excited they will be to jump right in.

2. If possible, visit the school to meet with the teachers and take a tour. Find your child’s classroom, their cubby or mailbox, the bathrooms, and any other important spaces. Knowing their surroundings will increase comfort and decrease anxiety, making your child will feel much more comfortable.

3. Be patient; Remember, it’s a process. Children adjust in their own unique way and on their own time. Encourage open communication with your child’s teacher as there may be some bumps in the road along the way.

4. Read together every day. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a story about a young raccoon who has anxiety about the start of school – A great conversation starter!

5. Foster connection & communication. It takes a village: smooth transitions are the result of connections between schools and families. Become partners in the process and support these connections with an open mind to ensure your child is set up for success.

Enjoy what’s left of summer and have a wonderful fall! And be sure to pledge to read with us on October 21st for Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®!

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