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Transitioning Back to School

by Lauren Schrotenboer, MA, CCC-SLP

As summer is winding down, you and your child are likely beginning to look ahead to the upcoming school year. Perhaps you have mixed feelings about transitioning your child to a new classroom with a new teacher and peers. The unknown may feel overwhelming, but there are some strategies you can do to ensure the transition goes smoothly!

Back to School Tips:

  • Playground Visit: Visit your child’s playground. This will give your child a sense of familiarity when playing on the equipment with their peers, especially if they are entering a new school.
  • Transition Books: Check out books at your local library about entering kindergarten, middle school, high school, etc. Reading books to your child about transitioning to a new grade or school will help them understand the process and feel prepared to form friendships and learn in a new environment. These books typically address a variety of challenges a child may face when entering a new setting, so sharing this information with your child will minimize associated stress and ensure they are not alone during this process.
  • Back to School Night: Attend a back to school night (if offered) to meet your child’s teacher, specialists, and visit his/her classroom. If possible, take pictures of your child’s classroom, playground, speech room, gym, cafeteria, etc. and make a picture book for your child. Giving your child visuals of where they will be learning will prepare them for success.
  • Play-Dates: Coordinate a play-date with a peer in your child’s classroom. Having a familiar face on the first day of school will set up your child for positive peer interactions!
  • Countdown Calendar:Create a calendar for your child counting down the days until the first day of school. Have them cross out each day until school resumes with a picture of a school on the first day, so they know what they are looking toward. Not only will this build excitement and help prepare them to return, but it will also give them practice with language and executive functions. While marking off days, ask them a variety of questions.

    Examples include:

    • What are you most looking forward to about school?
    • How many more days until school starts? Let’s count!
    • Which day of the week is it today? Tomorrow? Yesterday?
    • Which school supplies will you need for school? (You could even schedule a day to go back-to-school shopping on the calendar!)
    • Work on producing the days of the week correctly with any target sounds. Clap out words where your child is omitting sounds/syllables. (Ex: Sat-ur-day)
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): If your child is receiving special education services in the educational setting, refresh on your child’s individualized education plan. What are their goals? How has your child progressed over the summer? Which strategies have you found over the summer that are effectively helping your child? As a parent, it is important to remember that YOU are your child’s primary advocate. YOU know your child best, what works for them, and what type of support they may need at school. Never hesitate to share strategies with classroom teachers, school speech-language pathologists, and other specialists. They will appreciate your advocacy and insight!

Practicing these strategies will facilitate a smooth transition back to school, but don’t forget to enjoy the rest of your summer too!