It’s our last day at TPK for the school year! We have had such a wonderful year – getting to know your children, playing, learning, trying new things, making friends… For some of our littles, what comes next is a transition to “big school” – whether that’s public school or private school. Today we’d like to offer some tips for ways you can use some of your summertime to make that transition easier.

I won’t lie – making the shift to public school after our time at TPK was an adjustment! The longer day, riding the school bus, being more responsible for belongings and routines – even though my child was very ready for school, it was still a transition time for us. Some of the things that we learned in the early weeks of “big school” were important for that adjustment.

One thing I have learned is that it will be a gift to our children if we can send them to school with some self-assurance, empathy, and self-help skills. Here are three ways I think you can help build those in your child.

Help your child learn how to advocate for himself or herself. Your child needs to know how to say “I need to go to the bathroom”, “I feel sick”, “I don’t know how to handle this”, or “I need help”. You can role-play with your child – ask your child what he thinks he should do if he feels sick at his desk at school, and help him come up with some words that he could use with his teacher. Help your child know what to do if another child is sad or scared; and help your child know what to do if another child is bullying or if help is needed with problem-solving.

Help your child establish solid routines. It will make your mornings so much smoother if your child has a consistent morning routine with clear milestones. In our house, we get up at 7:00, get dressed, brush teeth and hair; eat breakfast by 7:30 (and put our own dishes in the dishwasher); pack up lunches and backpacks after breakfast; and have time to read or play until 8:25, when we get our backpacks and walk out the door to the bus. The clock – not Mom – is the driver of this process. A visual schedule may be just the thing for younger children who need step-by-step directions! Working on your routines this summer will help make your first weeks of school so much easier.

Help your child know that you love him even when you are not present. The weeks before starting “big school” are the perfect time to pour love into your child’s heart. Tell your child things you admire about her: something your child did right that you noticed, a quality you see in your child, a special memory. Tell your child that Jesus is with him at all times. A small ritual that allows your child to recall your love and Jesus’s love may help your child feel soothed in moments that feel stressful, or new situations – read Audrey Penn’s lovely children’s book The Kissing Hand together! Your child, taking your love with her on the school bus and in the classroom, will both have more confidence to handle daily challenges and also be able to be a kind friend to her classmates in the same challenges.

We are planning a “Back to School” blog series for this summer, and we’ll talk more about things you can do to help your child have a great transition into school for the fall. In the meantime, we pray that you have an enjoyable, fun summer with your family!