Parental Tips for a Smooth Back to School Transition

Special to Side By Side Services from

Shari Macneall


After enjoying a long and luxurious respite from early bedtimes and set routines, the mere thought of back to school can be anxiety provoking for everyone, especially children.

The return to school not only means the end of summer but the start of a new school year and signals many changes to summer life, including the adjustment to homework and a new teacher or even school.

The beginning of school is a time when parents need to put aside their differences to help children transition to new routines.

In spite of parental separation, parents should be united in the common goal of wanting to support their children’s social, emotional and educational needs. 

 Questions to be considered are:

  1. Who is most accessible in case of emergency?
  2. Are bedtime and homework routines between the different households similar? 

In the case of a family transition where access is being supervised, a portion of access visits could include homework assistance and providing a supportive listening ear.

If the children need new school supplies, backpack or lunch bag, each parent can take an active role in the children’s life showing that they are equally invested in their child’s happiness, in spite of parental conflict. A divided shopping list can still demonstrate involvement in the back to school process.

Parents may also want to talk to their child’s teacher about their situation, including who will be picking up the child after school or who to call in case of an emergency. This helps to ensure both parents are informed of their child’s progress, and separate parent-teacher interviews can be scheduled. In addition to this, arrangements could be made for two copies of report cards and for electronic communication from the school to go to both parents. This can also be duplicated with school authorities for assignments due dates, as well as progress updates.

In the days leading up to the start of the school year, involve children in the process, where possible.  Do they have a good study area with ample lighting and school supplies? Have decisions been reached regarding screen time limits and bedtimes? Are children involved in choosing extra-curricular activities?  By engaging children in the process, including input into their school lunches and/or snacks, you are providing a unified front and helping them combat stress with a support system.

Will the current access and schedule need to be tweaked?

Try to be flexible when unexpected homework arises. Express interest in hearing about your child’s new teachers, friends and also their frustrations. Parents living apart are still able to have a tremendous impact on their child’s security and stability.

It truly does take a village to raise a child.