Behavior & Development • Sep 05, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Summer: 4 Key Tips to Help Children Transition Back to the Routine of School and Extracurriculars

It’s August, and for many of us that means being thrown back into the transition to school and extracurricular commitments. Gone are the easy, laid-back mornings in our pajamas, and in comes the morning rush of getting everyone up, dressed, fed, and packed for school. The joys of coordinating carpools, managing schedules around extracurricular activities, and completing homework return with the start of the school year, as well.

The process of transitioning your child back from summer vacation mode can be challenging at times. This often involves a major transition to your child’s daily schedule as well as a return to having increased demands placed on them. Some children may experience trouble adjusting to these changes, as displayed by increased emotional or behavioral difficulties. While this transition can be tricky at times, increased structure and routine is one of the most useful things parents can do to help their child adjust to this change more effectively. It assists with regulation and allows your child to know what to expect. Below are four tips to help your child adjust to this change:

  1. Do what you can in advance to beat the morning rush. Think about what can be done the night before to streamline the morning routine and eliminate additional steps. Some ideas are packing backpacks the night before, having lunches packed and ready in the fridge, or packing sports bags and having them loaded in the car. These time savers are worth their weight in gold when you’re running against the clock before school!
  2. Use a visual calendar to help your child know what the plan is for the week. For example, the calendar could include any extracurricular commitments, carpool plans, babysitting plans, playdates, and so on. This will help your child to know what is happening each day and will assist in the transition back to a more structured routine.
  3. Develop an after-school (or after-practice) routine. Important considerations may include developing a routine for a break after school/extracurriculars, scheduling a consistent time to complete homework, and setting limits around bedtime so that kids go to bed early enough to get sufficient sleep.
  4. Consider cutting activities if needed. If you feel your child is too overwhelmed with extracurriculars then evaluating what is the right amount for your child can be helpful. The amount of activities that are tolerable or beneficial varies for each child. Some children thrive on many activities whereas others benefit from having some downtime. As their parent, you know them best and can determine whether your child’s extracurricular demands are a good fit. If you decide to eliminate certain extracurriculars, it may be helpful to wait until the end of the season to make this change.