Aug 21, 2014 Post By: Children's Health

How To Get Ready for School and Back to School Tips
Celia Heppner, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Children's Health, shares back to school tips for parents of young children.

For young children and their parents, starting kindergarten, moving to a new elementary or just the yearly getting back to school time can be exciting; however, parents may have concerns about how to make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible for their children.

An important first step when young children are starting school, especially when they are attending school for the first time, is to orient them to their new school and classroom. Many schools offer a “meet the teacher” event prior to the start of the school year, which can be a great opportunity to start this process. Young children function best when their environment is predictable, so helping them understand what going to school will be like is particularly important.

Dr. Melissa Roop and Dr. Celia Heppner
From left, Psychologists from Children’s Health Dr. Melissa Roop and Dr. Celia Heppner discuss the different kinds of bullying.

Young children start to develop a stronger interest in friendships with peers as they enter kindergarten and during the early school-age years. However, parents may want to start preparing their young children for positive interactions with peers before they even start school.

How to Handle Teasing or Bullying

In early childhood, bullying at school is less common; however, many children with medical conditions or disabilities report that peers ask them questions about why they look, sound or act differently. Although these questions tend to be more curiosity-based than intentionally unkind, they can make young children feel distressed or uncomfortable.

Preparing and practicing an age-appropriate response to questions from peers about disabilities or differences can help children feel more comfortable responding and can also help increase their self-confidence.

If you are worried that your child is being teased or bullied, talk with your child’s teacher and principal about your concerns.

How Long Will it Take for Your Child to Feel Comfortable in School?

Although there may be some “speed bumps” along the way, most young children become acclimated to the school environment and settle in to this new routine within a couple of weeks of starting school.

Happy School Child

If it seems like your young child is taking a long time to adjust to going to school, or if he or she continues to be extremely distressed about separating from you, it may be helpful to talk to your child’s pediatrician for suggestions or referrals to a psychologist or play therapist.

Leave us a comment to tell us how you helped your child conquer his or her elementary school fears.