As with any new or potentially unsettling situation — like starting school for the first time or entering a new grade or new school — allow kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday routine in no time.
Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as hanging out with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school supplies, getting involved in sports and other activities, and showing off the new duds (or snazzy accessories if your child has to wear a uniform).
It's also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer reassurance: Are they afraid they won't make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year?
Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If possible, it's especially beneficial for parents to be home at the end of the school day for the first week. But many working moms and dads just don't have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.
If your child is starting a new school, contact the school before the first day to arrange a visit. And ask if your child can be paired up with another student, or "buddy," and if you can be connected with other new parents. This will help both of you with the adjustment to new people and surroundings. Some schools give kids maps to use until things become more familiar.
To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also make sure that they:
Although it's normal to be anxious in any new situation, a few kids develop real physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, associated with the start of school. If you're concerned that your child's worries go beyond the normal back-to-school jitters, speak with your child's doctor, teacher, or school counselor.
Parents themselves can be a little nervous about the first day of school, especially if they're seeing their little one off for the first time or if their child will be attending a new school.
To help make going to school a little easier on everyone, here's a handy checklist:
What to wear, bring, and eat:
Transportation and safety:
Figuring out where kids will go after school can be a challenge, especially if both parents work. Depending on a child's age and maturity, you may need to arrange for after-school transportation and care.
It's important for younger kids and preteens to have some sort of supervision from a responsible adult. If you can't be there as soon as school's out, ask a reliable, responsible relative, friend, or neighbor to help out. If they're to be picked up after school, make sure your kids know where to meet you or another caregiver.
Although it might seem like kids who are approaching adolescence are becoming mature enough to start watching themselves after school, even kids as old as 11 or 12 may not be ready to be left alone.
If your kids or teens are home alone in the afternoons, it's important to establish clear rules:
To ensure that kids are safe and entertained after school, look into after-school programs. Some are run by private businesses, others are organized by the schools themselves, places of worship, police athletic leagues, YMCAs, community and youth centers, and parks and recreation departments.
Getting involved in after-school activities:
Be sure to look into the child-staff ratio at any after-school program (in other words, make sure that there are enough adults per child) and that the facilities are safe, indoors and out. And kids should know when and who will pick them up when school lets out and when the after-school program ends.
Also, make sure after-school commitments allow kids enough time to complete school assignments. Keep an eye on their schedules to make sure there's enough time for both schoolwork and home life.
Love it or hate it, homework is a very important part of school. To help kids get back into the scholastic swing of things:
Encourage kids to:
To ensure kids get the most out of school, maintain an open channel of communication with the teachers by e-mailing or talking with them throughout the school year to discuss your kids' academic strengths as well as weaknesses.
Most of all, whether it's the first day of school or the last, make sure your kids know you're there to listen to their feelings and concerns, and that you don't expect perfection — only that they try their best.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|Internet Public Library The Internet Public Library offers homework help for kids and teens.|
|Parent Teacher Association (PTA) The PTA encourages parental involvement in public schools.|
|Backpack Safety America (BSA) This website is dedicated to teaching parents, teachers, kids, and others the importance of properly packing, lifting, and carrying backpacks.|
|National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) The mission of the NASP is to promote educationally and psychologically healthy environments for all children and youth by implementing research-based programs that prevent problems, enhance independence, and promote optimal learning.|
|U.S. Department of Education This government site offers advice, links, homework help, and information for parents, teachers, and students.|
|Helping Your Child Adjust to Preschool The more comfortable you are with placing your child in preschool and the more familiar the setting is for your child, the fewer problems you - and your child - will encounter.|
|Back to School Dread it or love it, you gotta go to school. Looking for ways to make the first day a little less painful? Here are some tips.|
|Organize, Focus, Get It Done Take these three steps and you'll do better in school.|
|Kids Talk About: What Makes a Great Teacher We asked students what makes a great teacher. Find out what they said!|
|10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School Kids do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. These early years of schooling are an important time for parents to be informed and supportive about their child's education.|
|10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Middle School As students grow more independent during middle school, it can be challenging for parents to know how to stay involved. Here are 10 tips.|
|Getting Along With Teachers Kids who get along with their teachers not only learn more, but they're more comfortable asking questions and getting extra help. Read this article to find out how to build good relationships with your teachers.|
|10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in High School Even though teens are seeking independence, parental involvement is still an important ingredient for academic achievement.|
|What Kids Say About: Going Back to School See what kids had to say about going back to school.|
|Balancing Schoolwork and Hospital Stays Every student finds it hard to stay on top of schoolwork sometimes. So what happens when you have to miss a lot of school? This article for teens offers tips and advice.|
|What Stresses You Out About School? Find out what our readers said about how they handle back-to-school worries.|
|Note-Taking Tips Want to stay on top of your schoolwork by taking great notes? Here's how!|
|Homework Help Writing a report? Studying for a test? Having problems at school? Get tips and advice.|
|Backpack Safety As practical as they are, backpacks can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they're too heavy or are used incorrectly. Here's how to help kids find the right backpack.|
|Getting Homework Help Homework, homework, homework. How do you get it done? Get some tips in this article for kids.|
|When It's Just You After School Are you home alone after school? If so, find out how to stay safe and keep busy until mom or dad comes home.|
|School Lunches Lunch is a great part of the school day. Find out why what you eat can rev you up - or slow you down - for the afternoon ahead.|
|Talking to Your Child's Preschool Teacher Enrolling your little one in preschool can be a time filled with many questions. Find out how to establish an open, clear channel of communication with your child's preschool teacher.|
|Backpacks A backpack is an essential item for a kid in school, but they can cause injuries. Find out how to prevent your backpack from becoming a real pain.|
|Organizing Schoolwork & Assignments It's not just school: Mastering the skills of getting organized, staying focused, and seeing work through to the end will help in just about everything you do.|
|Helping Your Gradeschooler With Homework During grade school, kids start getting homework to reinforce and extend classroom learning and teach them important study skills. Here's how parents can help.|
|Test-Taking Tips Do you sweat, chew your pencil, and feel butterflies in your stomach as your teacher hands out a test? Study these test-taking tips!|
|Getting Involved at Your Child's School Whether their kids are just starting kindergarten or entering the final year of high school, there are many good reasons for parents to volunteer at school.|
|Getting Along With Your Teachers Teachers can help with more than just classwork. A good relationship with a teacher today may help you in the future - find out how in this article.|
|Homework Help Writing a report? Studying for a test? Having problems at school? Get tips and advice.|
|Going Back to School There's a lot of "new" in the first day of school. New teachers, new friends, new shoes, new notebooks, and sometimes, a new school. Find out more about going back to school in this article for kids.|
|Moving to Middle School You're moving on up - to middle school. But what will it be like?|
|After-School Snacks If your kids come in from school and head straight for the kitchen for something to eat, here's how to make sure they still have room for a healthy dinner.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.