Back to School Transition: A time for reflection, gratitude and positive planning
It’s hard to believe that the time to begin to plan for the transition back to school is here. As summer days come to a close, it is important for parents and caregivers to reflect with their children on their joys, reflect on experiences they are grateful for and to plan ahead for a successful school year.
Early August is a great time to reflect upon experiences that when well for children and adolescents over the summer. Ask your child questions about what they liked most and what they may have changed or perhaps done differently. Caregivers may wish to model this to demonstrate how to reflect upon pros and cons and discuss ways to improve upon experiences for next year. Reflection teaches kids to think about the past and plan for the future.
Now is an excellent time to reflect upon experiences that your child is grateful for. Did your child enjoy extra time with family and friends over the summer? Did they take a special trip? Did they make a new friend or learn a new skill. Model what you are grateful for to demonstrate how to express gratitude. For example, this summer, we took a trip to Japan. My colleague and I had the opportunity to present at the International School Psychology Association in Tokyo and were grateful to be able to bring our children and her mother along to share the experience with us. Our kids were delighted to join us in this cultural adventure. We were delighted to present on school safety, promotion of emotional and behavioral intervention and prevention, and legally compliant school practices in an international venue and experience the excitement of Japan with our children.
With the positive experiences of the summer in the rearview mirror, talk with your child about what the next month will look like for them. Children greatly benefit from knowing what to expect. Talking with them about their upcoming school schedule, their daily routines, and even their meal and bedtime will be very beneficial for your child. More specifically, preparation may encompass talking to your child about school readiness routines such as bedtime, morning routines, lunch plans and after-school care. It may also involve touring your child’s school during an open house and meeting a new teacher. Beginning to organize your child for school by acquiring or shopping for the necessary supplies with your child may also prove to be an exciting time for them, all the while assisting in their preparation. Finally, abiding by more consistent routines at home, such as reading with your child for one hour per day and enforcing an established bedtime will prove beneficial. Some children may benefit from more frequent discussion about their daily routine and may even require a visual schedule of their upcoming school day, depending on developmental needs and language skills. Finally, communicating any potential needs your child may have with their respective principal may prove beneficial. It may be useful to review strategies that have been effective for your child in the past, and, if need be, working together with the school to formulate a plan will likely set your child up for academic and behavioral success for the upcoming school year.