For parents with children on a traditional school schedule, it's that time of year: the time when parents start to wish that school began tomorrow, instead of roughly a month from now. Most kids, on the other hand, hope that school will never come again. They want to live in summertime forever, without school's strict schedule, classrooms, and homework.

Going back to school can come as an abrupt transition to a child who doesn't want to go back. It can feel like slamming into the ground after the joyful freefall of summer. There are some things you can do, though, to help your child catch his breath and be ready when the transition comes.

Talk it Up

School is a particularly abrupt transition for a child who doesn't know that it's coming. It sounds amazing, but you'd be surprised how many kids are shocked to find out that they have to go back to school at all, let alone so soon.

Talk about going back to school with your child. Even if you don't sit down and have a heart-to-heart, mention it to your child or ask her how she feels about it. This cues her to know that it's coming and makes it something she is aware of.

Talk, too, about how much fun school is. Remind your child how much fun he had playing with friends or how exciting it was to learn to read. Kids tend to remember the drudgery of school and forget that they actually enjoyed being there.

Go Shopping

Sure, shopping for school supplies is faster (and cheaper!) when your kids aren't along, but including them in the process helps them get excited about what's coming. Kids like to have new things, so they'll be motivated to go back to school when they know that's where they get to use their new markers, crayons, scissors, etc.

Shopping for supplies also reminds your kids of the things they enjoyed about school. Math might be hard, but it's fun to make art. Reading may not come easily, but cutting and pasting is almost always fun. If you have a child who dreads going back, it helps to remind her that it's not all work.


If you've been away for the summer or your child hasn't interacted with kids from school for some other reason, make sure he gets some time with school friends before the first day. Make a point to invite some kids over. This can be as informal as a couple of kids playing in the backyard or as formal as a Back-to-School party.

This is particularly important when your child struggles socially. Making sure that she has some positive social contacts before returning to the classroom will help her feel less intimidated and remember that there are people who like her and who she likes being with at school.

Be Proactive

Most of all, remember that it takes kids some time to adjust to any change. The sooner you start preparing them, even in small ways (like getting them up earlier), the easier the overall transition will be. Taking steps now will mean a more painless start to the school year for both you and your child.