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How to Make the Home-from-School Transition Go Better

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson


The transition from school to home is as tricky as your own transition from work to home can be.  No matter if your child goes to preschool, or grade school or high school, making the adjustment from school or childcare to home can be tricky.

Here are some tips to make things go more smoothly.

  1. Be present. By that I mean,  be really there, available, undistracted. Don’t listen to the radio or check your email and stay off of Facebook. Turn off the TV if you’re the one watching it. Be ready if your child has something to tell you, really ready.
  2. Be considerate. Your child has had a day – a good day or a bad day – and you can ruin it or make it even worse by being demanding and crabby. Let your child get in the door and get settled. If you have to remind her to leave her shoes on the mat or hang up her backpack, just say so. “Please do put your shoes on the mat… thanks.” Keep in mind that you can also make her day better, by looking her in the eye, giving her a little hug, and saying, “I’m glad you’re home.”
  3. Be respectful. You’ve missed your child and maybe you were worried for him about something – a spelling test or a tummy ache. Even so, the first few minutes your child is in the car or in the house isn’t the time to polish your detective skills. When you can politely ask how the test went, ask. But if he says, “Okay,” and doesn’t say anything more, that’s not an opening to quiz him on how many, exactly, he missed.
  4. Be creative. Ask interesting questions if you want to get a conversation going, not the same old tired ones. Instead of asking, “How was your day,” ask something else, like “How was recess?” or “Who did you play with today?” Ask questions that have a good chance to trigger recall the good parts of the day, not the anxious or unhappy parts.

It usually only takes a few minutes for  your child adjust to home-mode from school-mode. Let him have 10 minutes to decompress. Then you can ask about homework. You’re more likely to get an answer.

You probably are making the very same transition that your child is making, from your role in the wider world to your role as a parent and spouse. You also have a transition to make. You also need some time to decompress and adjust to being around the people you love. Give yourself that time by being calm and undemanding of your kids.

How you manage your child’s transition from school to home has a lot of influence on how the evening will go. At the very least, get things off to a good start. There’s no point in being careless about your child’s homecoming and making her feel unwelcome and unhappy.

If your child is happy, you will be too.

© 2014, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Look for free downloads on Dr. Anderson’s website at

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Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson

Dr. Patricia Anderson is a nationally acclaimed educational psychologist and the author of “Parenting: A Field Guide.” Dr. Anderson is on the Early Childhood faculty at Walden University and she is a Contributing Editor for Advantage4Parents.