A Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils

Transitions have the ability to foster a sense of unease. Students begin to finally feel comfortable in school with classmates, teachers, schedules... then it's summer. While summer is always packaged as a sunny, exuberant, special time perhaps there is an element of anxiety and shame hidden beneath the sand and lemonade. Then, once a child has adjusted to summer... it's back to school. That's a lot of transition for anyone, but knowing the added intensities gifted children feel, one must wonder how these routine, yet jarring transitions impact a gifted child.  

The source of difficulty with transition often points to a desire to have control and mastery over tasks and routines. Change organically disrupts the flow and sense of accomplishment that may be felt by a student, thereby spurring an internal alert that it's time to start over. 

Diluting the sense of anxiety, and even panic a student may start to feel as summer draws to a close may be combatted with support and guidance. Parents and guardians are encouraged to integrate pieces of the school year routine back in gradually to ease the transition.

Quick Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to School:

  • Have discussions about upcoming transitions

  • Allow time for questions and concerns

  • Give your student a visual schedule and timeline

  • Do a practice run (get ready for 'school,' drive to campus and walk around)

  • Meet with teachers and counselor before school begins

  • Celebrate the start of school with a special outing, treat, or gift

  • Pack notes of positive affirmation and encouragement (lunch box, or notebook)

While transitions are difficult, heading back to school and the mixed feelings it brings has the potential to be easily normalized. Nerves and anxiety are not just for students, it would benefit students to know adults have trouble with transitions too, they're not alone. 

The school I'm a part of embraces the need for a cushioned transition. The first week of school is entitled, 'orientation week' serving the purpose of easing students back into academic life and school schedules. There are no assignments, due dates or homework; this is a week for teachers to customize lesson plans according to student interests and for students to feel comfortable. 


While Austin, TX may have weather breaking triple digits every day... remember, the start of school means fall is on the horizon. 


"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." --Joe Fox, You've Got Mail (1998)