A Little Less Bumpy Summer To Fall Transitions

boy going back to school

Helping Preschoolers and Kindergartners Transition from Summer to Fall

It’s that time of year when the leaves change, the temperatures drop, the nights begin to get longer and the days get shorter.

Plans, structure, and preparation help you transition to the new season. Even when a change is positive, it can still trigger stress as our bodies and minds adjust to the new routines.

Do you have a child going to Preschool or Kindergarten for the first time? Below are some tips to make the transition from summer to fall a little less bumpy. Pick out a few ideas that you think will work best for your family.

Fill the tank.

Fill your child’s tank for the day with a morning cuddle. As you cuddle, (in their bed, your bed, the couch, your favorite chair), tell them that you are filling their tank and ask questions about their plans for the day. Ask them if their tank is full yet. Ask how they slept. They will let you know, generally within 2-5 minutes, that their tank is full. Talking keeps them from drifting back to sleep but also keeps them curious, engaged, and connected with you. Telling you when their tank is full helps them feel confident and ready for their day.

Practice new activities your child will do away from you.

For example, pack a lunch together and then sit and eat it together to see how your child unpacks the lunch and opens containers. Talk with them about what to do with everything when lunch is over. Use a timer for the amount of time the school provides for lunch. Practice eating at a table to prepare for eating at the school lunch table.

Prep snacks for on-the-go nutrition.

Use a crisper drawer in the refrigerator and one shelf in a cupboard or pantry as a designated place to keep snack items so children can serve themselves when the time is tight.

Pick out clothes and pack the night before.

Help them pack lunch the night before. Have them choose tomorrow’s clothes. Pack their backpack or day bag before bedtime to make it easier to get out the door in the morning. Adding these steps to your child’s nighttime rituals can help them feel more confident about the day to come.

Choose a special place to keep treasures.

When your child comes home they may have new things to share with you from their adventures out in the world. Or maybe you went exploring together and they collected
treasures along the way. Have a bin or basket for placing these items when you arrive home. Then you can revisit your day as you look through the basket periodically and decide what to keep.

Starting Preschool or Kindergarten is a big change.

Change is often hard for children and parents. All of these ideas are going to feel a little awkward at first. It usually takes 2-4 weeks before everybody is more comfortable with the new routines. A few positive routines will make the transition a little less bumpy.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 

L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

© Parent Trust for Washington Children