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  • Writer's pictureDr. Luisa Bryce

Foolproof tips for Back-to-School success

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing about summer boredom… and now the new school year is right around the corner. It may be your first instinct to avoid thinking or talking about the new school year entirely. If you’re like me, you’re hanging onto the the last few weeks of trips to the pool, Dairy Queen treats, and bike rides at dusk. Don’t get me wrong, I like to procrastinate and avoid change as much as the next person, but I always find it causes more headaches than if I’d just confronted the change head-on.

As adults we’ve had years of practice transitioning through change, yet it still throws us for a loop. Take taxes, for example. I’ve been filing taxes for years. I know Tax Day is April 15 and I know exactly what I must do in order to submit my documents on time. Even so, each year I scramble around stressing out just to make the deadline. Unlike adults, children haven’t had years to practice transitions. The not-yet-fully-developed mind of a child prefers routine, as much as many kids try to fight it by begging for late-night bedtimes and Pop-Tarts for dinner. Routines cause children to feel safe and grounded. Children tend to have less anxiety when they know what to expect, especially during stressful transitions. As a parent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the back-to-school advice out there. Keep it simple and focus on these tips so you can manage stress and enjoy the last few weeks of summer:


Not getting enough sleep can cause children to be more vulnerable and less able to manage stress. Start re-establishing school night bedtime at least two weeks before school starts, moving bedtime up 30 minutes at a time per week. For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m. during the school year but has been going to bed at 9:30 p.m. during the summer, have her go to bed at 9 p.m. for one week, followed by 8:30 p.m. the next week, etc. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours of sleep per night for children ages 5-12.


Make sure to involve your child in preparing for the upcoming school year. Go school supply shopping together with a list and a budget. Attend “Back to School” events, assuring your child meets his teacher, knows where the classroom is, and has a general idea of what to expect on the first day. If your child’s school doesn’t offer a “Back to School” event, call the school and see if you can stop by or schedule a visit before the first day. The more information your child has, the more comfortable and confident he’ll feel.


Talk to your child about her thoughts and feelings for the upcoming school year. Validate and normalize any worries or fears your child may discuss and problem-solve strategies for success. Help your child set 1-3 measurable and attainable goals for the school year. Goals can be anything from organization (“I am going to turn in 90% of my assignments on time this year”), to academic (“I’m going to learn my multiplication tables by heart”), to social (“I’m going to make at least one new friend this year”).

If your child appears highly anxious about the new school year or refuses to talk about the upcoming transition, Harmony At Home can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us today about specific concerns or for more great tips on how to guarantee school year success!

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