It’s that time of year again: back-to-school season! Back-to-school can be really fun and exciting for children — a new classroom, new adventures, and the chance to see old friends and make new ones. It can also simultaneously feel stressful, sad, or scary (it can be daunting for families too, for that matter!). So, whether your child is heading to preschool for the first time or getting ready to start kindergarten, here are some tips from Jumpstart about how to support a transition into the classroom.
1. Express yourself
The unknown can be scary! Spend time talking with your child about school — answer any questions they may have about the new routine and the types of activities they’ll be doing. If you can help your child understand what to expect, they’ll be more comfortable when that first day arrives.
2. Practice makes perfect
There are a number of skills that can help children be successful in their new classroom — whether it’s being ready to put their jacket and backpack on, using the bathroom on their own, or sharing toys, there’s a lot to master. Practice these and other self-sufficiency skills at home with your child. You can even play “school” together; acting out a classroom can help children connect these skills to the setting they’ll be expected to use them in.
3. Meet and greet
If it’s possible, find out who your child’s teacher will be and go meet them together before school starts. Seeing you engage and interact with their teacher — and even just being inside the school building with you — will help put your child more at ease when you drop them off at the beginning of the year.
4. Set up a playdate
Do you know any other children who will be in your child’s class? Schedule time for them to play together, so that they’ll have a familiar face to look for when they get into their new classroom.
5. Cuddle up with a good book
One of the best things you can do to support your child’s school success is to read lots of stories together! By reading and discussing stories regularly with your child, you’re helping build their vocabulary and their language skills, and helping them to understand new and complex emotions. Ask them questions about the story and its characters, explain interesting new words, and have them “read” their favorite books to you.
6. Enthusiasm is contagious
Whatever you’re feeling about your child’s new school experience, chances are they will sense it and mirror what they see from you. Focus on what you’re excited about and your child will too!