Back to school: Making the transition to a new school level

(Photo: MGN Online)

(Photo: MGN Online)

DENVER — Going from preschool to elementary school, from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school are all big transitions for kids.

“I’m having multiple classes this year so, yipee and I’m kind of freaked out!” said Grace Holmes, a student in Aurora who is about to start middle school.

Her mother, Lisa, knows how important it is to prepare her daughter for the school year both physically and mentally.

“There’s also a lot of social changes that she’s going to hit, those are the harder changes to figure out,” added Holmes.

While the big transitions are important, Dr. Harley Rotbart with the pediatrics division of Children’s Hospital Colorado, said every year is a big transition for kids.  He said parents need to be proactive about addressing your child’s concerns.

“They do need to initiate the conversation with their kids so the kids are conscious that their fears are not unique,” explained Rotbart.

He suggests getting your kids back into their school routine 1-2 weeks before school actually starts.  He said you should set an alarm clock, eat breakfast at a scheduled time, turn off the TV, have your kids play board games or put together puzzles.  Rotbart said you want to get your child’s brain back into school mode.

For younger kids Rotbart said you should try to take your child to their school and meet their teacher and future classmates.  This will help ease the transition for kids entering kindergarten, especially if they didn’t go to preschool.

The early years are also a good time to create open communication between you and your kids.

“Every evening have a debrief with your kids.  Not an interrogation but a debriefing.  What happened today?  What did you learn today?  What’s new today?  Anything bothering you today?  What did you see today that you didn’t understand and what can we talk about?” explained Rotbart.

Dr. Rotbart said parents need to be on the lookout for signs that something is wrong.  He said you should look for mood changes, changes in your child’s performance at school and changes to their normal routine or habits.  If you notice any of those signs sit down and talk with your child to find out what might be going on at school that’s bothering them.