Tips to Ease the Return to School

Posted on: 8th August, 2014

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Emma Healy, Occupational Therapist Cathy Coughlan, Speech Language Therapist Kerrie O’Grady, Speech Language Therapist

The beginning of school can often be a daunting time for parents, especially those who are new to the school environment. Parents may not feel well prepared or have doubts about where to begin! However remembering the simple things can often ensure a smooth transition from pre-school into primary school. The following points can be used as a guide or a general reminder:

What to do in August…

•Involve your child in the school preparations such as getting a uniform, getting a school bag, lunch box and other items needed; this allows your child to feel in control of the situation.

•Ask your child to help you to label books and other items. This is a good way to practice writing their name and also familiarise themselves with new school supplies.

•Usually children will have gone to their new school for a morning but it may be helpful to drive past the school. Make them aware of where they will be going in and where to come out, this may lessen any anxiety they may have.

•Model language appropriate for the school environment and begin to use words that are associated with school especially if speech and/or language have been an issue.

•Have story time during the day or before going to bed so your child is familiar with books

•Engage in activities that promote prewriting skills such as colouring, finger painting and drawing shapes.

•Help your child to practice taking off and putting back on their coat, and also familiarising them with their new uniform, buttons and zips.

•When doing table top activities, encourage your child to sit with their back supported against their chair and their feet flat on the ground to achieve proper posture, as this is what will be expected of them within the classroom.  It will also help them to focus and maintain attention.

•Plan on what types of food you will put in your child’s lunchbox and allow them to practice opening the packaging so they will be familiar with it once school starts.

•Start a regular routine of going to bed and getting up as you would when school begins.

•Check out any concerns about hearing, vision, language or motor issues that you may have – early intervention is key!

What to do in September

•Have a regular routine of homework time, organising for the following day and going to bed early.

•If a child is having difficulty with the routine try creating a visual schedule with pictures or on a white board so your child will understand what has to be completed.

•If homework has to be completed, ensure there are no distractions in the room such as TV, music or other siblings in the room who are not doing homework. Try to have one designated space for completing homework.

•To reduce stress, encourage your child to focus on one homework subject at a time and to finish the assignment out fully before moving onto a new subject.

•Limit TV time, computer games or play on tablets to 30min-60min a day at maximum.

•Encourage reading or story time before bed.

•For older children who may have increasing amounts of homework, follow the ‘20/20/20’ rule. Take a break every 20 minutes, stop for 20 seconds and look at least 20 meters from their homework or computer screen.

•Again check hearing and vision by asking the child if they can hear the teacher and see the board. Check with the teacher if you have any concerns!

Should you any concerns regarding your child’s speech, language or functional skills please feel free to contact us on 021-6019327 or check out our website for information on our services and clinic locations.


There will be a regular Q&A column in West Cork People regarding speech and language and occupational therapy from September. Anyone with questions relevant to this should email Kerrie O’Grady at


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