Every September, the carefree days of summer are replaced with regimented school days and planned evenings filled with homework and extracurricular activities.
While it’s children who attend classes, all family members feel the impact of school routines and changing schedules. Some students and families enthusiastically anticipate this time of the year. For others, it signals an unwelcome return to academics and a predictable Monday to Friday structure. Either way, being prepared for the change can help ease the transition process!
Here are some quick tips—both practical and psychological—to share with your employees, to help them pave the way for a smooth transition into the new school year.
Prepare for the first day of school by taking the following actions:
- Reach out to your child’s school to see if any supplementary items should be purchased (e.g. indoor shoes for primary students or gym shirts for high school students, stationery supplies such as binders, math kits, or scientific calculators for senior students)
- Ensure that your emergency contacts at the school, babysitter, and for after-school programs are known and readily accessible to your child
- For younger children, identify and practice age-appropriate safety procedures to help them manage traffic, strangers, school buses, and after-school activities—the more they know and practice, the safer they will be
- Use the week before school begin establishing bedtime and morning routines, with sleep schedules and wake up times in line with the school timetable
- Strategize and develop “back up plans” for days when your child is sick, or if there is a school closure, so unexpected emergencies do not catch you off guard
It may not be obvious, but children, like adults, experience stress too. On an emotional level, it’s essential to support and encourage your child as they head off to school. Forethought and planning are particularly important for children who struggle with social or academic aspects of attending school.
Starting a new grade; moving schools; dealing with bullies, media pressure, and academic success; meeting parental expectations; managing busy schedules—all are stressors that can impact a child’s educational experience.
Every child responds differently, but it is important to look for atypical physical and emotional behaviours and recognize when these behaviours unexpectedly transition to abnormal. Teaching and talking to your children about healthy coping skills before school starts can help manage stress later, once classes are underway.
These three strategies can help make the prospect of going to school more inviting for your child:
- Talk positively about school with your child and listen attentively to what is said, looking for strategies to address potential problems proactively
- Visit your child’s classroom before classes start and hold a “dress rehearsal” for school routines—even university-age children appreciate having the opportunity to adjust to campus life ahead of time and reduce the anxiety of being “the new kid on the block”
- If your child doesn’t have close friends or siblings attending their school, link up with someone else in the same class to reduce the first day jitters; most of us find it easier to do things with a “buddy”
Change is never easy—especially when it impacts your children and family. Take some time before the school year to plan your back to school strategy. The time you spend preparing will make for a healthier and more enjoyable school year.
 Back to School Tips., Homewood Health, 01/08/2019.
 A Stress Check-Up for Kids, Homewood Health, 01/08/2019.