Tips for a smooth transition back to school
Spring is here, the vaccine is rolling out in earnest, and elementary schools in MA are reopening, with middle schools and high schools to follow. It’s been a long year and students have had to acclimate quickly to many changes. Some students might be excited about going back, while others are apprehensive. For students who are still developing executive function skills, it’s important to take a few steps to ensure a smooth transition.
- Preview the changes and encourage a growth mindset. Take some time to talk through the upcoming return to in-person learning and try to view it as a chance to learn and grow. How do they feel about the change? What will be different about the rest of the school year? What might be easier about being back in school everyday? What challenges do they anticipate in making the shift? If your child has any questions about the transition that you can’t answer, take the opportunity to practice self-advocacy skills and email the teacher together!
- Reflect on your child’s toolbox. Identify the strategies that helped your child be successful with remote learning and discuss if/how any of those strategies could be helpful or useful moving forward for in-person learning. Perhaps you can identify particular strategies that need to be reworked in order to be successful for in-person school.
- Map out the new schedule. Help your child understand the new school schedule by taking a blank calendar and mapping out the new plan. If a school schedule has already been provided, spend time doing a schedule comprehension check to make sure your child understands how the schedule works. Also, you may want to talk through the new plan for after school/extracurricular time, as well as any adjustments to the morning/bedtime routine.
- Create an updated school packing list. Your child may already be in a routine carting certain materials back and forth from home to school, but that routine will likely need to change with the return to full-time, in-person learning. What does the new routine need to look like? What is on the new home to school organizational checklist? Engage your child in creating an updated checklist and for younger students, consider drawing visuals to go along with each item on the list.
- Finally, appreciate and acknowledge your child’s growth and endurance over the last year. Take a moment to recognize and celebrate your child’s success in graduating from remote learning. This has not been an easy year, and as we posted a few weeks ago, kids have been the superheroes of the pandemic. Let them know how proud you are of what they accomplished. And kudos to you, adults, who shepherded them through!