Back To School Transition Tips

By DJ Schneider Jensen
Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education

With summer on its way out, our thoughts (very slowly) turn to the upcoming year.  School will be starting, and the late night firefly catching will soon be replaced with early bath and bedtimes.  The lazy days we’ve enjoyed will soon end, making room for running “back to school” errands, organizing meals and creating new and improved chore charts.   Transitions are never easy, and this time of year always seems to be the toughest. 

PreschoolersFirst time transitions, like transitioning to preschool or any new situation, can be scary for everyone.   Here are some tips that might help make this experience a little bit easier for you and your little one.

Visit the school several times before the first day. 
Many of our Jewish preschools are synagogue based, which makes it easy to visit the building a few times.  If the school director or your child’s teacher is around, schedule a few minutes to chat.  This may ease some of the first day fears. 

Talk and read about the first day.  
Your child may be experiencing mixed feelings which can be confusing.   While many fears are based on the unknown, avoid dismissing these feelings as invalid or unsubstantiated.  Acknowledge the fear and remind your child that the bus drivers, teachers, and other adults are there to protect him.  If your child is able, you can role play some possible situations and outcomes.  You may enjoy First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.

Refrain from yelling or punishing your child for dawdling in the morning or having an occasional breakdown. 
The stress associated with new situations and transitions is very real and can be debilitating at times.  This is the time when your show of patience and encouragement can go a long way in helping your child feel successful.

Make it clear that you are leaving when you drop off your child.  
Sneaking out may actually add to your child’s stress.  Tell your child goodbye and remind her that you’ll come back.   Understand that separation anxiety is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

Celebrate this moment!  
There’s something magical about seeing your child move into a new phase of life.  Take a moment to recognize this and be grateful.  If you’d like, you can say the Shehechiyanu blessing with your child or by yourself (once the chaos of that first drop is over!) 

Take care of yourself.  
The beginning of the school year is a great time for you to take steps on your Jewish journey, too.  There are great classes in Jewish art and culture at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and your local synagogues. The Jewish Community Centers have fitness classes and great workout facilities.  Check out the resources at the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) for more information. 

For more fun educational ideas and great Jewish content, visit the CJE!

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