The summer is coming to an end and most families have either just started, or are about to start, the 2021-2022 school year. Teachers, staff, students, parents, caregivers … whatever role you play, you may see or experience the back-to-school jitters or stressors in some capacity. It’s been a weird and challenging year, to say the least, so it may be more difficult for some families to go back-to-school in-person. We’ve gathered some general tips and ideas to prepare you for a great start to the year!

Anxious about going back to school? You’ve got this!

  • Talk about what you will learn this school year and identify something you are excited about.
    PBS Kids offers age-by-age tips (ages 2-8) and activities for: Emotions & Self-Awareness, Social Skills, Characters, Literacy, Math, Science, Arts. OR just generally discuss the year and name one thing that is exciting about going back to in-person learning.
  • Walk through your exact routine beforehand to get more familiar and comfortable. The early alarm, brushing teeth, putting on clothes, eating breakfast, transportation, etc. Do this for the evening routine too! Create mini checklists to walk through each morning and night. Read more on “SUPER Morning and Bedtime Routines” on pbs.org.
  • Take a tour of the new school (if possible) to get familiar with walking to the classroom, to lunch, to activities, or to the bus. Establish a specific pick-up or meet-up spot if needed. Some schools are offering virtual ways to connect with new students. It is helpful to learn the ins and outs of the school beforehand to help with any first day anxiety.
  • Create a calendar that serves as a good visual for the days activities. This can also help you know what to expect or even what to look forward to that day/week/month.
  • The night before: set out your clothes and prep your lunch! This will help the next morning feel a little less hectic. You can also try to identify a few quick and easy options/choices for breakfast the next day.
  • New school? Meet a classmate beforehand so you have a familiar face/friend on your first day! Your parent, teacher, or school counselor should be able to help with this.
  • Start a back-to-school tradition! Identify something your family enjoyed doing together this summer and make a special night out of it to commemorate the new school year! Dinner and ice cream out at a favorite spot? Movie and popcorn night? Make it a yearly tradition!
  • Mental health is important! Make sure you can identify any intense feelings and have someone to support and talk with you at school, in your family, etc. Make sure you and/or your child knows how to find these resources if necessary!
  • Reframe the conversation! Focus on yours and others strengths rather than weaknesses, and similarities rather than differences.
  • Be open-minded! Explore new passions or activities and get involved in clubs or extracurricular activities at school. This is a great way to engage with other students who have similar interests!

Let us know if you have a specific tip or trick to add to this list!

As always, you are not alone. Easterseals HQ has a recent blog post “Parents of Kids with Disabilities are Asking Schools to Make up for Lost Time” that shows some of the disparities kids with disabilities have faced with COVID school shut-downs.

And here is an interesting article with tips from a pediatric psychologist. Some kids may have stressors they face at school, some kids may have trouble adjusting to new COVID protocols, etc. Great professional advice and suggestions here!

We are wishing everyone the best as they head back-to-school.


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