Transitioning from the Summer Months to the Academic School Year

Being home with my family last week meant spending a day with my 7-year old niece. I got to spend a hazy summer day snuggling and watching the latest Disney movies, playing with dolls, and completing an imaginative writing story. I would say my day was spent very well- a quintessential summer day!

As you sit and reminisce about the busy, sun soaked, laughter filled days, it is hard to imagine that summer is almost over. Many teachers are converting their summer schedules into school schedules and planning for the return of excited children.

You, as a parent, can also prepare yourself and your children for the return to school with these suggestions:

  1. Create a routine: Summer days can be filled with play dates, outings to local events, or dayTransition from Summer to School camp. However, setting your child up with a schedule for a month to two-weeks prior to the first day of school can be beneficial to establish responsibilities and a sense of time. Reset bed times and establish meal times that would mimic the meal times of the school year. Practice these routines on the weekends as well. Responsibilities that mimic “homework time” should be implemented in the evening routine- a simple writing task, quiet reading time, or a few worksheets to complete. ( provides a multitude of academic worksheets for all academic grades)
  2. Try to discourage day naps: Napping in the day, especially after school, can result in the establishment of inefficient sleep patterns. Typically, naps are phased out of the daily routine by the age of 5. Napping after school disrupts the nighttime routine by allowing a child to push off her fatigue, leading to alertness at inappropriate hours of the night. Establish a sleep/wake cycle prior to the start of school. This can also be encouraged with the simultaneous use of responsibilities and homework time that comes with a school year routine.
  3. For the first time first-grader: First grade is a lot of firsts! It is, in some cases, the start of a full day school schedule that is 5 days a week. It is also the first time you are leaving your child for such an extended period of time. If your child seems to experiencing “first day jitters”, validate them and establish a game-plan to address these concerns:

Create a special good-bye ritual. It can be a special hand shake, an extra tight hug, or a cool phrase. The good-bye ritual can become a part of the routine, signaling that it is ok to say bye to you and transition into school.

-Allow plenty of time to eat breakfast and get dressed. A time constraint with getting ready can lead to emotional distress. If your child requires an extra 5 minutes for socks, allow him this time, whether it be to wake up five minutes earlier or reduce “free time” in the morning.

-Allow your child to pick what he/she wants to wear to school. That little bit of independence in their day can provide essential learning opportunities for roles and responsibilities. Also, her attire should make her feel cool and special!

  1. Set-up a visit day: Do a trial run of the school atmosphere prior to the first day of school. This is a great opportunity to become familiar with the classroom, learn how to navigate to the gym, library or bathroom, and personalize your child’s cubby space/locker.
  2. Keep new hobbies going: Summer is an opportune time for a child to establish new likes and hobbies. Continue to encourage learning and refinement of newly learned skills through after school clubs, extra classes or community resources.

As much as your child loved summer vacation, she will love returning to school to see her friends on a daily basis. Help to build this excitement with discussion of what to expect at school this coming year and a fun count down!

Click here for tips on how to beat the back to school blues!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!