Transitioning Kids to a Back-to-School Schedule

The start of a new school year is upon us. With much to do in preparation for this momentous occasion — shopping, meal planning, scheduling overdue lunch dates with girlfriends! — you may not have given much thought about transitioning your child to a more structured schedule. Oops! Don’t worry, you can make up for lost time.

For younger children, experts recommend easing into a back-to-school schedule a week or so in advance. Start moving bedtime backwards by 15 minutes or more per night while also waking them up earlier and earlier until they’re accustomed to their new wake-up time.

Older kids might resist going to bed early, but you can still put this plan into effect. Chances are, a few groggy days will prompt them to hit the hay earlier on their own.

If your toddler usually takes a nap, stop that practice unless the school also offers naptime. The goal is to mirror a typical school day so the transition feels normal.

It also helps to get the evening routine (dinner, bath time) back to normal, which may have been all over the map during summer. Schedule time for a project or reading. That way when homework is assigned, they’re already used to having something to do at an appointed hour.

If the back-to-school transition didn’t start soon enough, expect your child to come home cranky. A healthy snack, a light activity, then an early dinner and bedtime should get them on track quickly. Be extra patient. Back to school can be stressful and adjustment can take a few weeks.