Easing the Transition Back to School for Your Middle School Child

By Brad Dunning

Routines tend to take a back seat during the summer, which is not necessarily a bad thing for children who crave more free time and for parents who need a break from shuttling them around town. But as we approach the start of the school year, re-introducing some routines back into daily life can help ease the transition from summer to fall. Below are a few suggestions.    

A back-to-school graphic.

Establish consistent meal times

A lot of kids don’t have regular meal times over the summer. Start getting them up earlier to recreate a breakfast routine and set a dinnertime routine, too. Use this time to start reintroducing healthier eating habits, which promote learning and concentration.

Establish consistent bedtimes

Kids tend to stay up later in the summer, so reinstitute a bed time with habits around it. Shut down devices an hour before bed, remove them from the bedroom, etc. You want to do everything you can to ensure the environment is right for a successful night’s sleep.

Address anxiety

A new school year brings with it a change in teachers, change in classes, change in friends—
and oftentimes a lot of anxiety. The more that you can prepare in advance to eliminate uncertainty, the better. Encourage your child to do locker setup before the first day of school, practice the locker combination, and get to know their teachers’ names. Take a careful look at the class schedule and supply list, and involve your child in back-to-school shopping. Giving your child as much control over the new school year as possible can help to relieve stress.

Set up a homework space

Create a workstation at home, whether in the kitchen or in a bedroom. Make sure it has good lighting, outlets, and a comfortable chair. As much as possible, remove distractions.

Check that clothes and shoes still fit

It may seem obvious, but a reminder never hurts: kids can grow a ton over the summer! Double check that school clothes and shoes are the right size. Giving yourself more time to prepare will allow you to shop around and look for sales.

Finally, parents, be sure not to put too much pressure on yourselves to orchestrate the perfect school year. Kids will make mistakes as they acclimate to school life and teachers’ expectations. Middle school is the time for making mistakes and figuring out better paths forward. We are all in this together!

About Brad Dunning

Brad Dunning is the assistant head of Middle School, and has worked at University School of Milwaukee since 2011. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s in educational technology from Marian University. He traveled to Oxford on a grant to study fantasy literature, served on the SEEK Diversity Committee at USM, volunteers at the Next Door Foundation and Riverwest Food Pantry, and is the proud parent of two boys who currently attend USM.

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