Going Back to School After Winter Break

The holiday season is marked by irregular schedules, family travel, out-of-town guests and a lot of sugar! Now, it’s time to go back to preschool! This transition can be tough for young children and their parents. Here are a few tips you can observe to help your child get back in the groove.

  1. Back to bedtime: Start two or three nights before going back-to-school. Create a soothing bedtime ritual that contributes to winding down and easing into an earlier bedtime. Soften the lights, put on soothing music and lower voices an hour before it’s time to get tucked in. A warm bath with a bit of lavender oil followed by a fluffy towel-off, soft, warm pajamas and tooth-brushing time provide all the sensory cues that it is time to wind down. 
  2. Holiday review: Give your child a chance to review the holidays. Create a voice recording of her favorite moments or aspects of her holiday experience or invite her to draw or paint a picture. Preserving her memory of the holidays in a place she can revisit it might help her transition to the school routine.
  3. Prepare your child: Be sure to talk to him about the return to school and regular routine. Keep your explanation concise and concrete. For example, “Tomorrow you will go back to school to see Ms. Kathy and all your friends. We will wake up, have breakfast, get dressed and Daddy will take you to school.”
  4. All feelings are okay: Remember to allow your child to feel and express all of her feelings. She might show disappointment, dread, excitement or frustration about going back to school. No matter what feelings she shows let her know whatever she feels is okay. If she acts out with those feelings, set limits firmly but lovingly.
  5. Save time for snuggles: Separating from Mommy and Daddy after being together a lot can be difficult for some children. Be sure to set aside time for some extra snuggles in the morning at home before you leave for school to ease the transition.
  6. Don’t linger at the classroom door: It does not help your child or the class when you linger, no matter how much your child may cling. After years of observations in preschool classrooms, I can attest that your child will not feel you have abandoned her. When you linger it only prolongs the pain of separation. Prepare her in advance that you will give her a hug and a kiss and will tell her bye-bye. Then, do just that.

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