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Transitioning Back to Full Day In-Person School

It feels like summer just started, and I can’t believe we are already talking about going to school, but also so awesome for so many reasons! Most of our children did not get to experience full-day school this past school year. Some didn’t even get to go to school. Hopefully, as we head into this school year, we can plan to have our children experience a more typical school year where they learn new skills, play with friends on the playground, and chat with peers at the lunch tables. Although all of this is so good and comes with many positives, it can be stressful and overwhelming for children. The expectation for children to engage and socialize for 7+ hours a day will start to exist again.  

Supporting the Transition

With that said, it is essential for us adults (parents, educators, caretakers) to better understand what our children are experiencing and be more prepared to support them if/when the need arises. The beginning of any school year brings up anxious feelings for most, and this year comes with even more! If you have a child who leans towards anxious thoughts, they will need to be more prepared and discuss what the school day will look like for them. The more information and plans you offer them, the more likely they will feel calmer and less worried about what will happen. 

An anxious mind tends to calm when there are plans in place for various scenarios that might happen: your mom isn’t at the pickup line right when you get out of school; your teacher is sick, and you have a substitute; you don’t know who to sit with at lunch; you have to go to the bathroom and don’t know where it is, this list can go on and on. If you spend time exploring your child’s worries and prepping them for possible stressful moments, they will feel more at ease with the transition to school. You might even make time to play at the school playground in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Maybe walk around the campus to decrease feelings of being lost when they are in a crowd of kids during transition times. If you can have some outdoor playdates with some peers in your child’s class, this might make goodbyes a bit easier as well. 

Going from summer to the start of the school year is always tricky when it comes to sleep schedules and new responsibilities that tend to take a back seat during the summer. In regards to sleep, more and more studies are showing that children are not getting enough sleep to support their brain development. Knowing this information, you might want to ease your child into an earlier bedtime and wake time as you start preparing for the first day of school. In addition, children benefit from a regular bedtime routine that supports winding down. Also, decreasing screen usage and blue light two hours before bed for healthy melatonin production is helpful as well. To see how much sleep your child needs, see this article by the National Sleep Foundation. It’s also important to note that you might notice your child needing extra sleep as the year begins due to their brains working so hard, and stress can cause fatigue. 

This time of year is so exciting and special, and we hope you get to soak in all the good things that come with it. Our children have been challenged this past year, and with our support, they are more than prepared to tackle this school year. So, enjoy the last weeks of summer, and here is to a happy and healthy school year!