Helping Your Child and Family Adjust to School

What Being in School is Developing and Teaching Emotionally

  1. To say good bye and hello with safety and security(1-6 y.o)
  2. Learning to acknowledge separation feelings (pain bucket feelings)- it’s okay to tell them “I think about you all through my day” or “yes, my love it is hard to say good-bye” (1-7 y.o)
  3.  The teacher becomes an important model of what it is like to be in relationship outside of their family. (1-17 y.o.)
  4. How to find ways to tolerate and recuperate from emotions (1-17 y.o.)
  5.  Peer and Social interaction.

 Important Tools for the Helping your Children

  1. Build Communication and Partnership with Your School/Teacher:  Get to know the routine, rules, and expectations of the classroom so you can reinforce and speak about them at home.  Most times than not adjust your home eating and napping schedule to one similar to the classroom (for the younger students).  Tell the teacher about possible changes at home, with the family, and in their home life so the teacher can make adjustments in school if needed. 
  2. Visit the School and Meet the Teacher: Make use and attend all the open houses for your school.  Multiple studies show that parent involvement in school increment social and emotional behavior which helps the student academically.
  3. In quiet moments, answer these questions for your child: (ie. Car, bath time, bed time) Narrate and predict:
  • Why they are going to school
  • How they will get to class
  • Different feelings they may feel (e.g. Sad, Happy, Scared, Excited, Bored)
  • Tell them what they can do with those feelings when they are in school
  • Tell them what will happen when they are picked up from school
  1. Create a morning routine that can be maintained and followed for the rest of the school year For the little ones (1-6 y.o.) -Create a transitional book with your child that you can read every day until the transition to school has smoothed out(aprox.45 days).  The book needs to narrate and predict what it will be like for them in school.  It can be drawn with stick figures or put together with pictures.  Be sure to involve your child in the creation process.  Here are the sections needed for the book:
  • Tell the story of his past experiences with school or being taken care of by someone other than you.
  • Remind them what they felt in those past moments (happy, scared, silly, frustrated, excited).
  • Show the new setting and teacher information.
  • Predict how they might feel this time (scared, happy, excited, jittery, mad, etc.)
  • Show how/who will pick them up and bring them back home to safety-love.
  •  Keep your language simple.
  1. Create an after-school routine you can maintain once you get home and the rest of the school year.  (ie. After-school activities &/or 20-30 minute free time once home, homework, dinner, bath/bed)

Moving Forward

  1.  Maintain morning and after school routine
  2. While in the classroom with them direct their attention to the teacher and teacher/classroom rules rather than yours
  3.  Keep your good bye brief  (2 kisses 2 hugs)
  4. Do not disappear or attempt to leave without your child saying good bye to you
  5. At quiet times ask them questions about school based on what you know they do as part of the routine of school.  Ask specific questions.
  6. Try not to make any sudden changes at home or with family for the first 21-45 days of school
  7. Do not worry or question your child’s emotional” hiccups” for the first 45 days of school (approx. 10/15).  It takes that long for children to truly transition to this new situation.