Whether your child is entering a new school, a new classroom or welcoming incoming classmates, routines and experiences are bound to be different for your child and your family this Fall.
One of the best ways to curb anxiety around these changes is to be prepared and informed.
Plan for and begin to familiarize yourself with potential new routines now. Practice changes in routines in advance of upcoming transitions. Know the schedule, communicate with teachers and family members about expectations, and most importantly- STAY POSITIVE!
Children don’t have a clear sense of time, and most of their worry stems from the “vibe” you give off, so there is no need for you to talk too much to them in advance about upcoming changes as this may foster more anxiety for them. While some children may need a little-advanced notice about what’s to come, most only need a day or two of positive and casual discussion of “how fun it will be to do something new” for them to be ready.
If you have a little more flexibility in your schedule over the Summer, take extra time to get to know new classmates and families. Spark conversations at drop-off or pick-up with existing faculty and parents who may have pointers and additional information to help you prepare for the transition. Arrange play dates and social gatherings with other families who are going through similar changes.
It also helps to get to know your child’s teacher and the classroom curriculum. Look for notices about upcoming opportunities to visit your child’s classroom. Have questions ready in advance about expectations, routines, and concerns you have about transitions. Be sure to share information with your child’s teacher about any unique needs he or she may have and do not hesitate to follow up with the teacher if you notice your child exhibiting any unusual behavior during the transition.
As you prepare for your changes in your routine, consider the following…Do I need to arrange an earlier bedtime to allow more sleep time for my child to recover from the demands of the new environment? Will getting to school earlier this year aid my child in making a smoother morning transition? Do I anticipate struggles over clothes or mealtimes now that my child is more independent? You may need to adjust your evening routine (or to create a consistent one) to include a gradual, yet clear transition from doing to resting. Perhaps laying clothes out the night before would help. Deciding on breakfast while sitting in bed with your child the night before could buy you those few extra minutes you need in the morning to stay calm and organized as you adjust to your new routine. Trying out subtle changes in your routine now can help you plan what you need to do for the Fall.
And, remember, no matter how hard you try and how much planning (or worrying) you do, your child’s transition may be accompanied by a few tears, a little extra clinginess, and some agitation. However, viewing those moments as the valuable and necessary opportunities your child and you need to grow and learn will make the process a more positive experience for everyone.