Preparing your child for a new stage in school, whether it’s kindergarten or college, can be challenging. A pediatrician offers advice for a smoother transition.

How to help your child succeed in school at every stage

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Getting a child ready to go back to school at any age can be overwhelming for families.

Parents must buy school supplies, fill out forms, learn new school procedures and, perhaps, shop to replenish an empty closet because their child outgrew clothes from the last school year, among other to-do items.

Preparing for school can even be more nerve wracking when the child – and parent – transitions to a new stage of school – whether it’s your adorable kindergartener heading off for a full day of school for the first time or newly minted high school graduate leaving for college.

Here’s some back-to-school advice to help you prepare for a smoother school year!


One of the biggest topics to talk about is safety, including stranger danger and safe touch. Also, talk about pedestrian safety, whether they are walking to school or getting off a bus.

Children should also know:

  • First and last name
  • Parents’ names
  • At least one of their parents’ phone numbers
  • Address
  • How to write their first and last name (or most of it)
  • Colors
  • Counting
  • Alphabet

Read to your children every night starting at six months or ever earlier. This helps when they start school both to enjoy reading but also with vocabulary acquisition. Pediatricians don’t expect kids to be able to read when they start kindergarten, but they can certainly be ready to start. 

Middle School

Kids need a lot of reassurance because they are often worried about going to middle school. They think it’s going to be harder. Tell them if a particular subject becomes difficult, to let you know so you can talk to the teacher and arrange for extra help.

Monitor cell phone use and screen time to make sure they are getting adequate sleep. If they are not sleeping well, ask when they are turning their phone off and whether they are texting at 3 a.m.

Other things to talk about:

  • Emotions; If they feel down, they should be sure to tell you or make an appointment to talk to a pediatrician, or whatever adult they feel comfortable speaking to.
  • Puberty and their changing body
  • Social media safety
  • Online predators

High School

By the time your child is 13, or even earlier in some cases, let them have an honest conversation with their pediatrician without you there. They are more likely to answer questions without their parents there.

Some of the topics a pediatrician might talk about include:

  • Safe driving: Don’t text. Don’t have a lot of kids in the car. Don’t listen to loud music. Wear your seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive.
  • Safety and dating
  • Sexual activity and STDs
  • Gender issues
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Smoking


Pediatricians reiterate high school topics, but also expand on:

  • Date rape
  • Drinking hazards
  • Getting adequate sleep, including strong warnings against using ADHD drugs to stay awake
  • Drug use

Your pediatrician is there for you if you run into road bumps during the upcoming school year and is always ready to help. We want to be a partner with you and always want the best for your child. Here’s to a healthy, happy, enriching school year!