Preparing Your Children for the Return to School

Stephanie Conner UF/IFAS Clay County Extension 4-H Youth Development
Posted 1/9/19

Our precious little ones have been on a long holiday vacation, staying up late, sleeping in, playing all day and now it is time to go back to school.

Talk about herding cats! That led me to think …

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Preparing Your Children for the Return to School


Our precious little ones have been on a long holiday vacation, staying up late, sleeping in, playing all day and now it is time to go back to school.

Talk about herding cats! That led me to think how I was going to get my family back into school routines… and maintain a smile. Then I thought about those poor teachers.

Yes, while we have it rough, those teachers get to spend hours with our kids trying to wrangle them into sitting, not talking, listening, doing work, and lastly dealing with the ultimate overwhelmed-emotional-crabby mood that rears its head as our children grow tired from all the re-introduced structure. Can you even imagine?!?

At this point I realized I need tips to help me adjust to the after holidays-back-to-school blues, so I can maintain my sanity and indirectly the teacher’s sanity.


Be honest about how you feel going back to work and them going back to school. Ask your kids what the transition back should look like.

Remember, when they feel they have a say they will work harder to succeed. Let them know you need help and between all of you, a great plan will form. Find ways to give them power, choosing and setting out their clothes for morning, what wind-down activity to do at night, how can they be awakened in the morning and so-on.


Yes, they have been in school half a year, but they are coming off a 3-week present-filled holiday break, they have forgotten anything school! Understand that.

Talk about school, classes, and homework the week before they go back. Having them sit down and write thank you cards for their presents is a great way to work them back into focusing and it teaches them accountability and appreciation. It also brings back the long lost Thank You cards!

Bed times

Stop cringing! A week before school, start incorporating earlier bed times. If they’re going to bed at 10 p.m. but school bed time is 8:30 p.m., start having them going to bed earlier in increments of 15-20 minutes to get back to 8:30.

In bed let them read a book, listen to an audiobook, color or tell them a story (great family time as we all are unwinding).

Waking my little bear

Have kids help plan the breakfast meal the night before and everyone takes a piece of the meal to prepare. This gives them a goal and something to look forward too. (Mom’s… let go and let them do it!)

Wake them slowly, turn lights on and be patient, don’t barge in and demand they get up. During that initial morning stretch that we all do, ask them a question to get their brain moving. After 5 minutes if needed, wake them again and open their blinds. Alarm clocks work well. Let them set the alarm and choose where to place it in their room so they must get up to shut it off. Remember it is about the buy-in.


I am not a huge advocate of rewarding people for everything they do like… waking up in the morning, however the first two weeks back to school deserve a little more attention.

The second week back to school is tougher than the first as children are tired from working so hard to get back into the routine. Admit it, wouldn’t you like your boss to hand you a designer cup of coffee for showing up to work after a long break? Do a little something nice to show them you appreciate them getting back into the school routine.

Parents, we just need to take a breath, be proactive. Our children are capable of adjusting well going back to school if we prepare them and don’t bark last minute orders the first day back.

In the EDIS publication Time Management for Kids it states, “Helping your children structure their day makes it easier for everyone to get things done. It also makes the time we spend with our children more enjoyable.” How true, I don’t want to spend time I have with my child yelling or running around like a mad woman.

Let’s take time to think ahead of what the evenings and morning entail, what is needed for school (lunches, snacks, supplies), what after-school activities require and lastly, what does family time need/look like? We will survive!

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