Returning to a school routine

Jenny Cooke, child life specialist, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Ease kids into their school schedule

With back to school around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about getting back into a school routine. Kids love routine. It gives them a sense of security and predictability. So, easing them into their school routine will make the transition to school that much easier.

It’s best to start adjusting your child’s sleep schedule a couple weeks prior to school starting. Once you decide on your child’s school bedtime, adjust their current bedtime by five to 10 minutes each day, until you reach the desired new school bedtime. This should also be done with wake times so that waking up for school won’t be a surprise to kids.

Parents will also want to return to a morning routine as if their kids are going to school: get up, get dressed, have breakfast and do everything needed to start the day. No more lounging around in pajamas all day! To make this easier, use visual schedules. For younger kids, consider using pictures of tasks placed in the order that they should happen in. For older kids, involve them in the process of creating their schedule.

Talk about their schedule

It’s important to talk to your kids about their school schedule, both before and after school, so they know what to expect. This will help eliminate some of the stress of back to school.

Reading stories can be a great way to help remind kids of their school routine. It can also help start the conversation around back to school and give them a chance to talk about their feelings. This can help make the change and transition a little easier, while preparing you for what might be their stressful triggers. There are many back to school books for you to choose from, some of which are pictured below.

A pile of multiple kids books about back to school

Check out these back to school books for kids.