Here are some helpful tips for kids and parents for the back-to-school season: Back-to-school time often means changes for children and families: the first day of kindergarten or first grade; new preschools or childcare settings; new classrooms and new teachers. Making smooth transitions between home, programs and schools can help children feel good about themselves and teach them to trust other adults and children. Helping children adapt to new situations can ease parents’ minds and give them a chance to become involved in their children’s education.
Transitions are exciting opportunities for children to learn and grow. Parents and early childhood professionals share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Of course, such milestones in children’s lives can cause anxiety, too. Strengthening the ties between programs and families will help create smooth transitions both for adults and children.
Be sure your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies.
• Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings. Test the route with your child.
• Make sure they walk to and from school with a friend, neighbour, brother or sister.
If your child is home alone for a few hours after school:
• Set up rules for locking doors and windows, answering the door and telephone, and activities allowed.
• Make sure they check in with you or a neighbour immediately after school.
• Agree on rules for having friends over and for going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.
• Take time to listen carefully to your children’s fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
How parents can help ease the transition:
• Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. If you are excited and confident, your child will be, too.
• Prepare yourself. Take note of how your child reacts to separation. If possible, visit the new setting with your child. Introduce your child to the new teacher or early childhood professional in advance.
• Arrange a play date with another child from the program, preferably one-on-one, so that your child will see a familiar face when she walks in.
• Start daily routines that will add to continuity. Let your child become involved with packing lunch or laying out clothes. Also, begin an earlier bedtime several weeks before.
• Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day, for chatting and commuting together.