7 steps to prepare your child for school

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Summer is over and it’s back to school! Follow these tips to help your kids welcome the start of school:

  1. Slowly prepare them

    Change their sleeping and waking schedules one to two weeks before school starts. Children need 10-13 hours of sleep every day. They should be asleep by 9:00 pm or earlier to be able to wake up early. Help them have a routine that includes fixing their bed, dressing up and eating breakfast.

    Let them practice physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask at home. Help younger kids to get used to wearing a mask by following the video below:


    How to get kids to wear a face mask, Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Mike

    Read the Province of Manitoba’s Restoring Safe Schools: July 30 – Guidelines for September 2020.

  3. Be positive and excited

    Help them look forward to school by being excited for them. Talk to your kids about seeing their old friends and making new friends, learning new things, playing sports, going on field trips and joining fun activities. This will not work only for your toddlers but with your teens too.

  4. Make the preparation an adventure

    • Go back-to-school shopping with your child. Let them choose their clothes and accessories like their fabric mask. Having new clothes and things can make them excited to go to school. Ask the school about other needed school supplies.
    • Prepare a special study nook. Let them help arrange and decorate their study area. This should be far from the TV or computer in your home.
    • Let your child help plan their lunches. Make a list of food your child would like to bring for the week. Ask them for suggestions. Know the school’s food and nutrition policy (Read: Top 5 tips for preparing your kids’ school lunches).
    • Plan a new look. They might like to get a new hair cut or hair style. Go to the salon with them.

  5. Listen to their questions

    Your child may be nervous about new situations or worried about getting sick. Listen to their questions and answer in a reassuring way. Describe what the school will be doing to protect them from the virus. Tell them that you and their teacher will always be there to support them. Walk with them to school if they are extra stressed about the first day.

  6. Visit the school

    Go with your child to the school a week before the start of classes (call ahead to check if they’re open). Let them see their classroom, library, cafeteria, playground and washrooms. It may lessen their worries about getting lost in school.

  7. Discuss their schedule

    Talk to them about their daily schedule so they’ll know what to expect. Describe how they will get to and from school. Walk with them to the bus stop if they will be taking the school bus. Have a daily routine so that they’ll know the time to wake up, prepare, and leave. Encourage the habit of preparing ahead of time. For example, choosing their clothes the night before. Post their schedule on the fridge door or bedroom wall to remind them.

  8. Have educational activities

    Start having more educational activities like going to a museum, library or reading a book at the park. This will help them go into study mode while enjoying the last days of their summer vacation.

Article updated August 12, 2020.
Sources: Back to school tips, healthychildren.org; 101 back-to-school tips for kids and parents, Liz Alton, Care.com; and Healthy sleep habits: How many hours does your child need? Healthy Children.org. Retrieved August 23, 2018.

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Community Resources

Read Preparing for going back to school during the pandemic for more tips.

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