Easing into the start of a new school year

The Fall Begins

Settling your child into a new school year can be simplified. Pediatric Occupational Therapist Christina Brooks-Moore of Fairfield shares tips that are helpful whether your child is attending a new school, entering school for the first time, has anxiety, or has special needs.


Stick to a schedule throughout the fall, incorporating both assignments and extra curricular activities. Structure is key to helping children with their organizational skills.

Mind tricks.

If you didn't adjust bedtime and waking time prior to the start of the school year, don't worry, just gradually make their lights out and “up and at 'em” times a little earlier each day, so it's less a shock to their system throughout the year. Consistency is key. If your kids stay up all hours on the weekends don't expect them to wake up bright and early ready to learn on Monday morning.

Counting down.

Make a calendar showing the big events at school and have your child mark off the days so they are aware of when they occur.

Staples scene.

School supply shopping should be a fun excursion. Involve your children in choosing their supplies to get them excited about settling into their class(es). Even go shopping for a picture-day outfit. Make it fun. Engaging them in the process will help alleviate anxiety.

Story time

For special needs children, make a Picture Schedule, giving visual clues, to help them adjust to the morning routine, riding the bus, classroom rules, etc. Tell your children Social Stories, which are made-up stories about real life scenarios, to teach them how to relate and adapt to social situations. Also call your school, and ask to schedule a one-on-one “meet and greet” with your child’s teacher prior to the first day of school to ease the transition.

Practice makes perfect.

Role playing and reading stories can also help eliminate anxiety about a new class and environment. Children can learn about riding the school bus, getting to know their teacher, making new friends, eating in the cafeteria, and more through fun stories.

Contact Christina Brooks-Moore by email or call 203-258-0475.

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