Johnston: Getting ready for the return of school

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, August 7, 2019

One week. That’s all that is left before school begins. I’ve seen my social media feeds filled with First Day of School pictures already. I know much of Western Kentucky has already gone back to school and even some counties closer to Clark.

Our awesome teachers have already sat through many days of professional development and working on their classrooms to be ready for open houses and back to school nights. (Thank you teachers, you rock). So ready or not, the first day is upon us.

As summer ends, there is always a lot to do to get kids ready to go back to school. The transition from summer to school can be stressful, and it’s normal for kids to have some anxiety about school starting. Many children show signs of worry about schedules, schoolwork or friends during the back-to-school transition.

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These back-to-school jitters should gradually diminish over the first few weeks of school starting. Starting school can cause everyone to feel a little nervous about the first day. But getting off to a good start will help ease some of that anxiety. Try to focus on the positive things associated with going back to school, like hanging out with friends, meeting new people, and starting sports and other activities.

Here are a few tips to ease back-to-school transition:

— Start adjusting your schedule to get back on your school routine of bedtimes and wake-ups.

— Have kids practice organization by setting out what they need the night before like the clothes they are going to wear and things they will need for the day, including anything they need for after school activities

— Visit the school to explain how drop-off and pickup will work. If possible, have your child practice walking to class. Attend Back to school nights/Open Houses if at all possible

— To help your children ease back into school, write down the need-to-know information to help them remember details such as what time classes and lunch start and end, their bus number and teachers’ and/or bus drivers’ names.

— Validate your child’s concern that starting school can be hard, but reassure them it will soon become easier as they get more familiar with the routines.

— Make sure your children are getting enough sleep and eating a healthy breakfast. This is vital. None of us function well when we are tired, especially kids.

Back to school is often a stressful time for parents too. I know I’ve been pulling out my calendar like crazy trying to get these new schedules figured out.

Parents could be especially nervous about the first day of school if this is their first time going to a school, like me, a first-time Baker mom.

To help make it a little easier on everyone, parents can do a few things too.

— Have you filled out any forms the school has sent home, such as emergency contact and health information forms?

—Do the school nurse and teachers know about any medical conditions your child has, such as food allergies, asthma, diabetes or other conditions they may need to manage during the school day?

— Do the teachers know about any conditions that affect how your child learns? Take the time to chat briefly with a teacher about your kiddo. It will make you feel better and often helps a teacher know more about how to work with your child

— If your kids will be riding the bus, make sure they know where the bus stop is and the drop-off and pickup times

— If your child walks or bikes to school, make sure they know the safe route.

Remember anxiety is normal when we start new things. Embrace the newness and have a great year!

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at