Skip to main content


Back-To-School Transitions

Jul 20, 2023, 16:40 PM by Sansum Clinic
children with backpacks running to class

Less attention to schedules, homework and bedtimes can often make summer an enjoyable break from the regular routine. However getting children and teens back into the groove as the school year approaches can be a tough adjustment.  Sansum Clinic pediatrician Marilyn Mendoza, MPH, MD explains that some anxiety before the school return is normal for children. Dr. Mendoza shares some tips to help ease your child back to the classroom. 

  • Talk with children about what to expect when returning to school.  Listen closely to their concerns, creating a safe space so they can open up. 

  • Talk through some of the things your child is most nervous, sad or unhappy about, and brainstorm some solutions. Remind them to take deep breaths to help manage big emotions. Remind them of other times they were brave or showed strength in a difficult situation.

  • Share your own thoughts and emotions in a healthy way, expressing how the return can be difficult for everyone. For example, you can say “I had so much fun with you this summer. I will feel sad to be apart from you for school days, but I am also excited since I know it will be a fun place for you to learn and enjoy being with your friends.”

  • Write out the school schedule on paper, in whatever manner best suits your family (paper, whiteboard, computer.) Expand on parts of the routine which might be more challenging for your child. For instance, if getting ready in the morning is hard, break down the steps in more detail (getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, packing up backpack, etc.)  Sticking to a regular schedule helps build confidence, instills self-discipline and provides a sense of security.

  • Slowly adjust your child’s sleep routine before school begins to help your child’s body better adapt. Move bedtime and wake-up times back by about 10-15 minutes a day.

  • Incorporate a little reading and writing into your summer days, whether that looks like reading out loud together, setting aside some quiet time to read or doodle, visiting the library, or journaling about your summer fun. 

  • Reconnecting with school classmates is one way to get children excited about the return to school.

  • If your child is headed to a new school or classroom, visit it before school starts, if possible. 

  • Build a school support team. Let teachers know if you believe your child may struggle with this change, and any strategies which seem to help at home. 

  • When the first day of school arrives, keep your goodbyes short, and offer reassurance, love and positivity that they will be OK. Ask them for the “highs and lows” of each school day, praising their successes and talking through their struggles. 

  • At the start of school, try to ensure that children are getting enough regular physical activity. If your child does not participate in sports, consider a neighborhood bike ride, an after-dinner walk or a park visit. 

  • Stay hydrated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends water as the drink of choice. Children ages 1-3 years need approximately 4 cups of beverages per day, including water or milk. This increases for older kids to around 5 cups for 4-8 year olds, and 7-8 cups for older children.

  • Get solid sleep to ease the school transition, anywhere from eight -12 hours depending on their age. 

  • If your child brings lunch, include them in the preparation of healthy choices. Always pack at least one or two fruits or vegetables.

  • Remember that children are incredibly resilient and that it’s natural for them to experience rough patches with these transitions, meeting new friends and staying in new places


Dr. Marilyn Mendoza

Dr. Marilyn Mendoza >