Managing the Transition to Return to School

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It’s that time of year when parents of school-age children are preparing for the school year. For many, back-to-school preparation means school-supply shopping, visiting the pediatrician, selecting books, and buying uniforms. In today’s digital age, the end of summer is also a crucial time to ensure children and teens are getting back into a healthy routine. This includes reducing screen time and going to bed earlier than they would have been over the summer months. 

Source: Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

Dr. Victoria Fierro-Cobas, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, explains how the transition to the school year can be successful with the help of some simple strategies.

“All of us parents understand that the summer months can be a time of rest and relaxation. It’s also a time of lax routines and later bedtimes. Incorporating a healthy schedule early in the school year can help children and adolescents thrive in their academics and extra-curricular activities,” she says.

Below are some helpful tips for children of all ages that can help with a smooth transition to the school year:

  1. Set a bedtime routine. Setting a standard time for sleep each day helps children get back into a schedule and ensures your child gets at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. 
  2. Create a morning routine. Equally as important as a bedtime routine, having a morning music playlist or sharing what you are looking forward to each day can help your children not dread getting ready for school. 
  3. Reduce daily screen time to about 4 hours a day, including iPads, cell phones, and video games. Instead, encourage your child to go outside for a daily dose of sun and activity. 
  4. Ensure your child eats three balanced meals daily that include at least five servings of fruit and veggies.
  5. Get organized. Carve out a space where your child can do homework and read at home daily. A dedicated space encourages the child to be independent and responsible for homework and daily studies.
  6. Ask your child about their goals for the new school year, extra-curricular activities your child would like to be involved in, and new milestones that may be approaching, such as a transition from elementary to middle school. 
  7. Listen to your child. Encourage your child to speak about their feelings and emotions as the start of the school year approaches. Some children can experience anxiety with the transition back –to –school, which can be managed by talking through their emotions.

“It also may be helpful for children with specialized needs to rehearse the morning routine, drive to the school, and even sit in the classroom before the first day, if possible. This helps them feel confident and prepared for what to expect,” said Dr. Fierro-Cobas.

About Dr. Fierro-Cobas

Dr. Victoria Fierro is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. She provides fee-based evaluations, assessment services and treatment for children and adolescents with various developmental and behavioral challenges. Dr. Fierro is board certified in general pediatrics and developmental-behavioral pediatrics. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and member of the Florida Pediatric Society. To learn more about Child and Adolescent Specialized Assessment (CASA) Program at Nicklaus Children’s, visit