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How to Ensure a Smooth Transition

As the days get shorter and the air a little cooler, signalling the end of summer break, you might be dreading the return of a hectic family schedule - the start of a new school year, the ramp-up of after-school activities, and perhaps some feelings of uneasiness having gone through the ups and downs of this past year.

By thinking ahead and using some simple strategies to help your child with this change in routine, you can ensure a smoother transition from summer to fall!

1. Restart routines. To help your child adjust to a more formal schedule, re-establish a family routine two weeks before the start of school that matches what your family’s schedule will look like in the fall. This routine should include typical wake-up and bedtimes your family needs to have during the school year. To help this transition go a little smoother, a good rule of thumb is to try and aim for one hour of wind down time before bedtime (i.e. if your child’s bedtime is 8pm, wind down time should start at 7pm) and could include reading books, taking a bath, or playing low-energy activities.

2. Foster connection. Going back to school and starting after-school activities may be the last thing on your child’s mind during summer break. However, you can start by carving out some time to foster connection and better understand how you can support your child in this transition.

Some great ways to get the conversation started with your child could include:

  • What are you most looking forward to this fall?

  • What exciting things do you think you will be learning this year?

  • What goals do you have for this year (i.e. making three new friends, reading a chapter book)?

  • Do you have any worries and anxious feelings that we can work through together?

3. Talk with the teacher. Talking with your child’s teacher before the start of school is a great way to get information about the classroom schedule and routines and will help your child be prepared for the start of school.

When talking with your child’s teacher, ask them:

  • What is your class schedule?

  • What are some things I can start working on before school starts to make sure my child is ready for your class?

  • What are some topics you are covering during the school year that might get my child excited about learning new things?

  • What rules do you have for your class that I can talk with my child about and reinforce before the start of school?

  • As a parent, what can I do to support you?

 4. Find fun ways to be active. Fall is the start of many sport and recreation programs, and for children who may have missed out on these opportunities last year, starting back up, or even trying something new, can be a bit nerve-wracking.

To make your child’s sport and recreation experience a positive one:

  • Ask your child what they would like to do, what their interests are, etc. (from rowing to art to BMX biking, there are many organizations across Calgary that offer cost-effective program options to keep your child active and engaged).

  • Take your child to view the facility/program space and, if possible, have your child meet the leader/instructor/coach ahead of the first day.

  • Be familiar with any rules and regulations ahead of time and ensure your child is aware of these (i.e. masks required to participate).

  • Work together to pack essential equipment/supplies (i.e. swimsuit, goggles, towel, etc.) before the start of the program.

  • At the end of each day, take a minute to debrief together by asking your child what they liked about the activity/program, what they found challenging, and what they are looking forward to next time.

Transitioning from the lazy days of summer to a structured schedule can be challenging, but with some planning and some creative thinking, you can ensure your whole family has a smooth transition this fall!

Jen is a mom of twins, avid adventurer, and co-owner of WordPLAY Consulting. She has worked in education, sport, and recreation for over 25 years as a teacher, leader, and advocate for positive child and youth development. For more information, visit 

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