As we draw closer and closer to September, many of us are preparing our children to head back to school. If you’re like me and your eldest is gearing up for her first year of full days then you’re probably preparing yourself more than anything else (*sniffle sniffle). Back to school time is rife with shopping trips to compile the necessary arsenal of gear, talks about expectations, and an attempt to restore some semblance of a routine pre game day. As I prepare our household for the big day, I can’t help but look at my almost 2-year and wonder how she’ll handle her big sis and best friend being gone all day.
Less than three years apart, my girls spend a lot of time together; they bathe, create, and sleep together. School is a totally normal part of growing up, and being left behind by an older sibling is too. Although it’s totally normal, I think the toddler will miss her sister during those long hours (I will too!)
So… what to do to ease the transition? Here are some suggestions:
Discuss: Talk to your toddler in advance to help prepare her for the change. Kids love to know what happens next, so explaining that this change is coming and what it means should help with the transition, even if she doesn’t quite get it all. Keep it light and positive.
Include: All the back to school rigamarole can get pretty all encompassing, and could leave a younger child feeling left out. When shopping for back to school gear, pick out a back-to-school themed item or two for your toddler too!
Play Pretend: A hand-me-down backpack or lunchbox filled with toddlerized school supplies can be a really fun role playing game that can help your little one envision what school is and where their big bro will be all day.
Visit The School: Take your toddler with you to the orientation day or just to visit the school. She’ll enjoy checking out the new place and it will help her understand where her big sister is when she goes to school.
School Themed Stuff To Do: Planning some school themed arts and crafts projects or reading books about going to school can help familiarize your toddler with the idea in a way that doesn’t necessarily relate directly to him or her.
Keep Busy: Once school does get back in session, spend time each day doing special activities geared toward your toddler. The extra attention will help if she’s a little down about the whole situation and being a little busy body will take her mind off of her older sib.
Make It A Celebration: Celebrate the first day of school and be sure to include everybody! Get baby brother right there in those first day of school photos so everyone can be part of the memory.
Tune In: Every kid is different and some children may have a harder time with the changes when a big sister or brother goes to school. Really take the time to listen to your toddler even when it might be easier to go the distraction route. A little comfort and reassurance (and a little mama’s rendition of the “wheels on the bus”, perhaps?) can go a long way to easing his mind.