Learning and Sharing

Making a Smooth Transition Back to School




It is August 4th already and in one short month we will all be going back to school.  If you have been like me, staying up later and sleeping in later, you know that we are headed for hard times when the early alarm goes off and it is time to get ready for school.

Consider these suggestions to ease your child back to school:

  • Sleep is paramount to brain development, mood and attention span.  Getting back into a scheduled bedtime and wake-up routine a few weeks before school starts will make things go smoother for everyone in the household.  Aisha Sultan, Home and Family Editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, suggests that everyone go to bed early, including the parents.  She writes that,  “At least until children reset their circadian rhythm, it helps if the entire house shuts down earlier”.
  • Keep the bedtime and wake-up schedule of events as exacting as possible.  Dr. Esther Hess at suggests that parents see how much children can do without a prompt.  If your child needs it, make a picture or written visual schedule and post it on their bulletin board, mirror, or the refrigerator.  Here are some examples of checklists for morning and bedtime routines to encourage independence by



Or you could have your child make their own schedule and post it




  • Use a calendar and start to count down the days until school starts.  Summer feels like it will last forever when you are a kid.  Mark off the days on the calendar and talk about how many days are left to go.
  • Schedule a playdate to get reacquainted or reestablish connections with friends and classmates.  Try to meet on the school playground.
  • Transitioning between a fun summer schedule into a more structured school schedule can cause anxiety.  To help lessen stress put good visual supports into place.  Examples of good visual supports are social guides/social stories and visual schedules.  I created this social script as an example




  • Make a plan.  Give your child a feeling of having some control by working together to make a plan.  A plan should include the expected behaviors for the morning and homework routines.  A plan should include “escape routes” or how the student can get themselves out of difficult situations such as “I need a break” cards or just knowing where to go if they need help.  Prepare your child for situations that may not go as planned.  Discuss a plan of action for free time such as lunch, recess and before school (auditorium).
  • The Educational Services Dept. at Rush NeuroBehavioral Center developed a back-to-school transition plan using Executive Functions as a guide.


Using this guide can help navigate the shift from summer’s freedom to the demands of the school year.

  • Prepare yourself!  A calm and collected parent is better able to help their child make a successful transition back to school. Once you have done everything that you can to ensure a smooth transition-take a deep breath and have faith that it is all going to work out okay.

My Best,


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