Starting the School Year Strong: Tips for a Successful Transition

I recently heard a Back-to-School ad on the TV and immediately thought, “Can it be time for this already?” Ryan graduated many years ago, but I can still recall how I felt as July turned into August and we began the back-to-school countdown. Ryan was always very anxious (and I was, too) so I learned over the years how I could help the both of us control our worry. Perhaps some of my ideas might help you and your child.


  • If your child is entering a new school, it is helpful to set up times prior to the start of school for your child to walk through the school building and locate his or her classroom. When Ryan was transitioning to middle school, we walked through the school and located his classroom, locker, restrooms, etc. to allay his anxiety about being in a new school. We even had an album of photos of the staff with whom he would interact.
  • Schedule an appointment with the principal – support of the administrative team is critical for a successful school year.
  • Similarly, request a team meeting prior to the start of school. I asked that all the teachers who would interact with Ryan attend as it is important that not only the classroom teacher but the ancillary staff become acquainted with his strengths and challenges.
  • Each year I created a handout describing what teaching methods and behavioral strategies were most successful with Ryan. I made sure that the team understood the importance of DOC043015-04302015100234_003setting the bar high by including a sample of his best work as well as his efforts when he lacked interest in the work he was doing.
  • Count down the days to the start of school so that your child is prepared for the transition from summer fun to school days. Bedtime and morning routines often change in the summer, so begin readjusting 2 weeks ahead of time so that your child gets used to getting up early and starting the day in a structured way.
  • Remain positive and calm about the new school year. Ryan could always sense my anxiety, which in turn made him become more anxious.

On another note, as some of you may know I particularly enjoy Maria Shriver’s concept of taking the month of August to step away from social media, blogging, and the digital world (as much as possible). I will resume my blogging in September! May you have a smooth and blessed start to the school year!

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