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Adjusting to School



  • Whether your child is starting school for the first time, or starting in a new school, you can help them adjust and have a positive attitude.
  • You and your child might want to meet and talk to your child’s teacher before school starts. Being involved in your child’s school helps you get to know some of the people and problems in your child’s life.
  • Help your child get organized and set up routines for doing homework and planning for the next school day.
  • Ask about friends, trips on the school bus, and other parts of your child’s school day, as well as about studies. Also make sure that your child has active time at the end of the school day to play outside, gets enough sleep, and eats a variety of healthy foods.


A little planning and encouragement goes a long way toward helping your child have a good attitude about school.

Show your child that learning is fun and natural.

  • Be a family that likes to learn. Visit a working farm, museum, zoo, radio or TV station, or the state capital. Ask questions and get your child's opinion on different topics. Keep books, games, and projects around the house. Read stories about school to your child. Show your child that it’s fun to learn new and interesting things.
  • Play school with your child before class starts. Switch roles sometimes so they can be the teacher and you can be the student. This helps your child think about what it’s like to be in the classroom and to see it as a fun.
  • Point out that your child will make new friends at school.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep and eats a variety of healthy foods.

  • Give your child healthy breakfast foods each morning. Let them make some lunch choices.
  • Set a bedtime routine so that your child gets 9 or 10 hours of sleep every night.

Get involved in your child's school.

  • You and your child might want to meet and talk to your child’s teacher before school starts. Tell the teacher if your child loves dinosaurs, drawing, or taking care of a baby brother. This can help your child bond with the teacher and help the teacher know the best ways to help your child feel comfortable.
  • If your child will ride a school bus, introduce your child to the driver and other children on the bus.
  • Have your child meet another classmate and arrange a play date before school starts.
  • If your child has problems with a certain subject, talk to the teacher about how you can help.
  • Join a parent-teacher organization or volunteer your time. This helps you share more of your child's world.
  • Find out about school activities and if your child is interested in them.

Help your child get organized.

  • Shop together for school supplies. Set aside an area in your home where your child can study. Provide a table or desk, good lighting, and school supplies. If possible, keep the study area far from tempting distractions like the TV.
  • Plan for the next day. Help your child get into the habit of organizing things. Check on clothes, backpack, lunch money, permission slips, and homework the night before a school day. Note important dates. Buy a wall calendar with large boxes. If your child is too young to read or write, draw pictures for important school activities. Help an older child fill in dates of tests, when projects are due, field trips, and special events.

Help your child unwind after the school day is over.

  • Give your child one-on-one time every day. Give a hug and talk about the school day. Ask what happened and what your child learned. Listen for feelings of anger or fear as well as feelings of excitement and satisfaction. Ask about friends, trips on the school bus, and other parts of the school day, not just about studies.
  • Your child may say they hate a classmate one day but want to sit next to that person in the lunchroom the next day. Don’t rush to try to solve your child’s problem. However, if your child seems worried or anxious, you may need to help. Talk with the teachers to see if they have seen any problems. If your child is being bullied or is not making friends, you may want to practice ways of handling the situation with your child.
  • Encourage your child to use energy for active outdoor play or sports.

Set up a homework routine.

  • Doing homework before or after dinner is a good habit for most children. While things may need to change sometimes, having a set time for homework will help your child stay focused and get work done.
  • Help with homework, but do not do homework for your child. If you do the work, it keeps your child from learning the subject. It also delays learning self-confidence.

After your child starts school, watch for signs of strain and stress such as:

  • Refusing to go to school
  • Throwing temper tantrums when you talk about school
  • Clinging more than usual
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits

Getting regular physical activity, learning relaxation skills, and letting your child talk about stressful events can help.

If your child continues to have problems adjusting after the first few months of school, talk with the teachers or your child’s healthcare provider.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2020-01-30
Last reviewed: 2019-02-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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