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How to Ease Back to School Butterflies

Janelle Cox

As with any new situation, like starting a new school or going into a new grade, children need time to adjust. As teachers, we know that it’s not easy for children to enter a new or potentially unsettling situation for the first time. While everyone (even teachers) can feel a little nervous about back to school time, in just a few short weeks we know that everything will slowly become a routine and the jitters will become a thing of the past. Here are a few tips for parents on how to battle the back to school butterflies.

Accentuate the Positive During Back to School Time

The best thing to do to help ease the back to school butterflies is to emphasize the positive aspects of going to school. Talk about things like meeting new friends, reconnecting with old friends, buying new school supplies, showing off their new school clothes, getting involved in school activities and sports, or joining band or chorus. You can talk about school field trips and dances, school football games or even classroom birthday parties. Your goal is to essentially hype them up and get them excited about going back to school.

Talk About the “Worries”

The unknown can be scary, and it’s completely natural to be worried when you are starting something new. That’s why it’s important to talk to children about their worries and give them reassurance that everything will be OK. Take a few minutes to sit down and just listen to all of their concerns. Are they worried about last year’s bully or making new friends? Whatever the worry is, your job is to just sit and listen. Then once they’ve listed their concerns, you can go through them one by one and offer reassurance. For example, if they are concerned that they won’t make any friends, you can talk to them about how they can make new friends. Teach them how to introduce themselves and how to find something in common with their classmates. The more tips and comfort you give a child, the better they will feel about their reservations. Here are a few more suggestions on how to help ease those first week jitters:

  • Write down important information like school locker combinations, class schedule, teacher’s name and room number, bus letter or number, etc.
  • Hang a family calendar that shows what each person has to do on what day.
  • Talk about where the child will go after school and what they should be doing during that time.

Make the Transition Smooth

One of the best ways to make the first week of back to school easy and make the transition as smooth as possible is to just be there for the child. A great way to be there is to be present when you are home and to listen to them. If possible, try and be there when they get home from school (for at least the first week). If you don’t have that flexibility because of your job then you can plan family dinners where the children can talk about their new school experiences.

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Create a School Routine

Another suggestion for easing the back to school butterflies is to create a consistent school routine. This routine should be followed from the moment the child wakes up in the morning until the moment they go to sleep. Here is an example of a healthy school routine to follow.

  • Wake up in the morning and have them eat a healthy breakfast, this will help them be more alert as well as do better academically. Evidence suggests that a healthy breakfast is known to boost a child’s brainpower.
  • Come home from school and eat a healthy snack, followed by designating a quite space in the house to get homework completed.
  • Children should pack their lunch and backpack the night before as well as lay out their clothes. This will help ensure an easy morning.
  • Establish a reasonable bedtime to ensure the child will get enough sleep. Evidence suggests that better sleep leads to better grades. The National Sleep Foundation recommends duration of sleep for children ages 6-13 years old should be between 9-11 hours per night. Teenagers ages 14-17 should get 8-10 hours.

Tie Up Any Lose Ends

There’s a lot to do when it comes to back to school time. Do you have the necessary school supplies? Will the child buy lunch or bring lunch? Are the child’s immunizations up to date? Will the child take the bus, walk, or get driven to school? These are just a few of the things that you need to think about and inform your child of. Tie up any loose ends to ensure an easy transition (on everyone’s part) to school.

To ensure that every child gets the most out of school, it’s essential that the lines of communication are open. Listen to all of their thoughts and concerns and just be there for them.

How do you ease those back to school butterflies? Do you have any tips of advice that you’d like to share? Please feel free to comment below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.