Help Smooth out the Transition to a New School Year

Deanne Shields

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. So said Anne, in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables. I like to think that the beginning of each new school year is like this, fresh with no mistakes, fresh with new teachers, fresh with new optimism! Sometimes, however, it doesn’t feel so fresh. Many children feel defeated before the school year begins; they dread going back into the classroom. Many parents, myself included, dreaded the upcoming homework tears, the repeated conversations with teachers about my child’s ‘hidden disability’ and helping my child feel optimistic about the new year when I didn’t always feel that way myself.

The following are some suggestions about things parents have done to help smooth out that transition to the new school year.

Prepare to speak with your child’s teacher(s) before school begins. Sit down with your child and help them come up with a list of:

  • Things they are good at.

  • Things that are difficult.

  • Things that help them do better in class, and

  • Things that make it more difficult.

Examples could be:

  • I’m good at PE, art, helping others, following directions, remembering what I hear...

  • Spelling, reading quickly, holding a pencil correctly, copying notes from the board, understanding what I’ve read, timed multiplication tests, anxiety.

  • Give me the notes before class, audiobooks, calculator, spell checker, sitting in the front of the room, let me have a secret signal when I’m confused or stressed, working with a peer, tests read aloud, a quiet place to do work, don’t give too many directions at once or at the end of class when we’re cleaning up.

  • Having a student correct my assignment, making me write on the board in front of the class, reading aloud.

After, have your child practice explaining these things to you or another trusted person so they can share this, with your support, to their teacher(s). If they don’t feel comfortable doing this, have them go with you while you share what they have told you.