Easing Into the New School Year

Preparing to go back to school is often a combination of excitement and overwhelm. With each incredible new chapter, undoubtedly comes a new set of challenges.

The good news? You are going to be fine! The following tips can help ease the back-to-school transition:

Preparation. Start practicing the school year bedtime routine two weeks before school starts. Beginning the routine 30 minutes before bedtime allows for less stress and time to get ready for bed, get cozy and read a book. Starting the bedtime routine in advance can help ease the transition from summer to the school year.

Communication. Communicate with your child’s teacher before the school year begins. Introduce yourself and discuss any pertinent information regarding previous school years or struggles. Be open and honest with your children. Talk to them about how they are feeling and listen to what they have to say.

Be Attentive. It’s easy to become distracted but remaining present and engaged is essential. Be aware of your child’s behavior and focus on the positive aspects of the new school year—getting to see friends again and making new friends—and encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy, like sports, singing or art.

Reminders. Send a note saying how much you love them and are proud of them. Place the note in a discoverable place, such as a backpack or lunchbox.

Traditions. Take a picture of your child on the first day of school holding a sign with their grade on it. This will become a beautiful tradition to share together each year.

Make their first day memorable. After school, take your child to their favorite restaurant for dinner, make a special meal or get ice cream. Do something meaningful and out of the norm for them, because they made it through the first day (and so did you)!

Breathe. Take a breath and stay calm. If we are frazzled, overwhelmed or stressed out, this is the message our child receives, and they will mirror our emotions.

Watch for red flags. Warning signs—withdrawing, mood swings, weight loss, eating issues, physical complaints and chronic anxiety about school—may indicate something more serious, such as bullying. Talk to your child and provide the support they need.

Resources. Be actively involved and discuss any concerns directly with the educators at your child’s school. Schools have a plethora of resources for children, including school psychologists/therapists, teachers/staff, guidance counselors, tutors and peer support groups. Encourage your child to talk to someone they trust about their feelings and what is happening.

Most importantly, let them be kids! They are only young for a short time. Embrace their journey and growth! Be present for them and for every precious moment.

Brittney Henderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Westlake Village, who focuses on helping people break free from their pasts to live the lives they want! Contact her at 805.267.1869 or visit

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