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5 Tips for School Transitions

Dr. Oswalt discusses 5 ways to ensure that the transition into the new school year goes smoothly.

Whether your child is going to school for the first time, transitioning into a new school or even just returning after a long summer that first week can be daunting. Here are five ways that you can make the transition go more smoothly and save everyone some stress.


Get on a schedule at least one week ahead of time!

One of the most jarring things about transition into school is the rigid schedule. Especially if returning from a relaxed summer schedule with later nights and sleeping in. If you enforce the school schedule a week before then you get the adjustment phase out of the way without all the extra complications that come at the start of a new school year. If your kid is already in the right routine then they will be ready to learn and are less likely to show up groggy. Making sure that you have a week ahead of time also helps smooth out any jet lag symptoms for kids returning from vacations.

Have a test run!

Particularly if this is your child’s first time at school, you should go visit the school one more time. You can find her classroom and perhaps even meet her teacher. Familiarity with the school environment will help reduce the stress that some kids encounter when adjusting to the new situation.

Set up an after school routine!

We all know the importance of a morning routine, but we often forget how vital it is to have a plan for after school. Your child needs to know what to expect (especially on the first day): Who is going to pick her up? What time do Mom and Dad come home? How long do I have to spend on homework? What can she look forward to? Don’t underestimate the value of the last question. Kids need to have something to look forward to when they feel like something is formidable or out of their control. Having a time to decompress is important for you kids just as it is for you.

Spend time wisely!

Kids need an hour of exercise every day and about 10 hours of sleep. This is time for your child to refresh mentally, physically and emotionally, and to help their brain develop to its maximum potential. Sleep and exercise will also cut down on tantrums and help your child relax and go to bed easily. It is also important that you try to keep this schedule even on weekends so that your child’s rhythm isn’t thrown off.

Sleep Estimate:

Age 3-5: 10-12 hours

Age 5-12: 9-11 hours 

Age 12-19: 8-10 hours*

*Teens have a later circadian rhythm, so they are more inclined to go to bed late and want to sleep in.

Homework Estimate: 

1st & 2nd Class: 20 minutes 

3rd & 4th Class: 30 minutes 

5th & 6th Class: maximum of 1 hour 

Fake it till you make it!

We all know that the first day of school can be daunting, whether it be the first day of kindergarten or your teenager’s first foray into high school. They key for you as a parent is to keep calm and act cool… even if that is the exact opposite of how you feel. Kids take their cues from their parents. Just like your two year old would look back at you when she fell to see if she should cry, your school age child looks to you to see if she should freak out. The more optimistic and confidant you are, the more they will be too.