Back-to-School Transitions: Tips for Parents

The school year has started and it’s so exciting to see children in their school uniforms with their backpacks on smiling for those first day pictures! 

As well as being exciting for many children and parents, there are other emotions that may be experienced. In fact, it may change each day or even within the day. One morning a child might be resisting getting ready to go to school, then that afternoon they may come home smiling and raving about how much they love it. 

Rest assured, this is all quite normal. Getting a new routine in place takes time at any age, and the structure of school could be a big change from what your child has been used to so far in their life. 

There are a few practical things parents and families can do to support this transition and school journey for children to make things as easy as possible. We’ve compiled some effective tips to help you and your child adjust in the transition to primary school. 

Top tips for easing the transition to school

  • Say goodbye with a confident smile: Children are energetic sponges, who tend to mirror our feelings. For example, if you are saying goodbye but feel overwhelmed or a little bit sad about seeing your child growing up and heading to school, chances are they are taking notice. Even when it feels tricky, try to say goodbye confidently and show children that farewelling them and heading to school is a positive thing that will bring happiness.
  • Ease in to the year: When children first start school, they can often feel very tired. Their brains and bodies are taking in so much! It can help to take it easy after school and before school to allow them time to rest and reflect. This might mean cutting back on extra curricular activities for the first few weeks and overall scheduling a little less where possible to take it slow and steady.
  • Pack a healthy lunch: Good nutrition can make a notable difference on energy levels, mood and a child’s ability to focus. Fruits, vegetables, wholegrains — and make sure you pack enough so that children feel satisfied. Don’t forget a big bottle of water!
  • Keep it consistent: Routines become comfortable more quickly when we are consistent about them. Have a morning before school routine that children can rely on for familiarity, and same goes for after school where possible. Routines make children feel safe and secure, especially during times of change. You could also create a nice after school routine that is something they really look forward to.
  • Communicate openly: Create a comfortable space for children to communicate how they are feeling about school. Ask questions and show that you are interested. A good way of approaching this is by asking “What made you smile and feel happy today?”. It’s also important to ask “What was something you didn’t like very much about today?” — this will assist you in gaining an insight into what is happening at school and identify ways you can help.
  • Empower children with practical know-how: Easing any issues that might make children uncomfortable or upset at school can make it a more enjoyable experience. This means ensuring they can remove or put on their jumper or jacket with ease, doing up their shoes easily, opening and closing lunchboxes and drink bottles, finding and using the toilet and so on.

Not only are these tips great for those commencing primary school, but they can also be adapted for children who are starting at a new school this year, or even children who are heading to kinder or childcare for the first time.
Keep an eye on your child and take note of any issues or changes in them that are concerning to you — you might like to speak with your child’s teacher or health professional in certain circumstances.

While the adjustment period varies from child to child, most children do settle in to school and go on to have lots of fun learning and making new friends! Embrace this new stage and congratulate yourself on supporting your child to have a fantastic start in life!

To help your child with transitioning to school, check out the wide range of  free downloads for parents and educational resources including transitional songs, yoga poses, daily routines and printable posters on
Bonkers Beat website and YouTube Channel.

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