Helping Your Child Transition from Summer Vacation to Back-to-school

By Michael Tauscher

Summer is a time for being outside, exploring, playing, and having fun, which means that the transition back to school can sometimes be hard. It’s a big adjustment for children both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Below are a few suggestions to help children with the transition from summer vacation into a happy and enjoyable school year.

A back-to-school graphic.

Enjoy your summer!

Summer is meant to be spent outside, playing and exploring. Be sure to enjoy those moments with your children. Find a special park, walk the neighborhood, or play in the sprinkler. Those are great ways to create memories that last a lifetime.

Adjust your sleep schedule

As you get closer to the first day of school, try putting your child to sleep 10 or 15 minutes early so he or she is getting optimal rest time by the start of school. If needed, chat with your pediatrician about appropriate sleep times for your child. A good night of sleep reaps big benefits for your child during the school day.

Read each day

Read out loud to your child or, depending on the age, have your child read to you, a pet, a sibling, or even their favorite stuffed animal. Have your child share what he or she reads to develop comprehension skills. Visit the public library as part of your weekly summertime routine. Make reading fun and enjoyable because it’s a big part of school. Click here for tips on encouraging your child to read.

Math is important, too

Reinforce math skills as you prep meals at home, count the number of steps to your mailbox, or add up the number of water balloons you can throw. You can also practice simple math facts using an app, online program, or printout. Building basic math skills and number recognition creates a solid foundation for success in the classroom.

Monitor snacks and eating routines

Summertime often means late-night snacks, ice cream cones, and s’mores around the campfire. During the school year, snacks should be healthy and light to promote learning. Start introducing new snack items to try and taste so you are ready for fall. Remember, children may need to try a new food several times before they start to like it.

Visit the school

Check the school website, drive around the school the next time you run an errand, play on the playground, peek in a window, even schedule an appointment to visit if you can. The fewer surprises there are on day one, the better! These are positive ways to ease your child into a smooth morning drop-off procedure.

Check schedules

Fall can bring with it a return to busy schedules—music practices, sports, dance, school, and more. Create a plan with your child to set expectations for when school work, extracurricular activities, and family fun will take place. Everything in moderation—be mindful of overscheduling your child with activities that take away from the joy and fun of the program.

Speak positively about school

A new year, a new teacher, and new classmates can prompt a lot of questions from children. As adults, we can also get anxious about school. Our phone conversations, dinner table concerns, and backyard chats are often overheard by children. Set your child up for success to welcome new friends and be ready for school with a positive outlook and growth mindset. 

About Michael Tauscher

Michael Tausher has served as the head of Preschool and Lower School at University School of Milwaukee in 2015. He was born and raised on a family-owned farm in Pulaski, Wisconsin, and has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in educational leadership. He has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, and has overseas teaching experience in Kyoto, Japan.

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