For many of us, August and September mean back-to-school time. Big transitions can be challenging for kids and adults alike, so we asked parents of kids ages pre-school to college how they make that transition easier. Here are their ideas for making the most of those final summer weeks and getting ready for the school year.

  • “Before the new school comes barreling down at us, we take a morning to go school shopping and end with lunch out to celebrate the beginning of the new year. During this time we talk about what went well or worked well the previous year, and what we think should be changed going forward. This can be as simple as handling morning routines and school necessities, but can also include the types of support they’d like to see from us or from each other to make it the most successful year possible.” —Suzannah K., mom to five (ages 16, 14, 12, 9, and 7)
  • “Last summer, in preparation for our youngest son’s senior year of high school, we started actively talking about how we would support him to make his own decisions and be more independent during his senior year. It was a challenging year of letting him do it his way, but he learned to get out the door on time and prioritize his school work, social obligations, and down time. This summer we continued letting go to support his independence in managing his time and money. We agreed on a 2-week ‘family vacation’ where we committed to doing family activities including eating meals together. Best summer and family vacation ever!” —Joy F., parent to two (ages 25 and 18)
  • “Every year we plan a weekend away in the middle of September – camping, a couple days on a lake, or a trip to an amusement park – so the kids have something to look forward to and don’t feel like all the fun is over when the first day of school rolls around.” —Amy H., mom to three (ages 11, 9, and 6)
  • “My daughter has many allergies and asthma which makes her very prone to getting sick with respiratory infections. With the change of seasons and the opportunistic environment for infections of school we have a preventative action plan to start her on her inhalers at least 1 week before school starts. We also start ramping up our reading routines and getting to bed earlier.”—Matt F., dad to two (ages 10 and 7)
  • “The past 2 years, we went away for a week 2 weeks before school started to have some R&R together. The past few years, we have also created some kind of lunch and breakfast menu of things they would want the first few weeks of school and then food shop together. They lay out and label all their school supplies and decide what they want to wear on the first day of school.” —Tammy B., mom to two (ages 12 and 9)
  • “My daughter with autism and intellectual disability needs a lot of supports with transitions like this. When she was younger we always visited a new classroom several times to spend time there with the teacher. She had fun helping me put together a little gift basket to bring to the new teacher (tissues, hand cream, markers, gift card for coffee shop, etc.). I also wrote ‘social stories’ to help her understand everything that would be new, and all the parts of her life that would stay the same.” —Fran B., mom to one (age 22)

We’d love to hear from you. How do you say goodbye to summer? How do you get your family ready for the next school year at any age? Share your ideas and stories on our Facebook page.