This time of year is one of my favorites. There is still time for one final getaway before summer ends, yet the excitement of the approaching school year is also upon us. But not all children are ready to see the carefree days of summer end and face the real anxiety and fear that returning to or starting school can sometimes provoke. Even young children entering preschool, daycare, or parent/child programs can experience anxiety about a new and unknown situation. How can parents help? For young children, a few days before school starts, find a time when you’re feeling close and connected to your child to gently explain that soon they will begin to attend preschool. Explain some of the things that happen in their program and what their new routine will be like. Children take comfort in rhythm and predictability. Each day find an opportunity to tell or read a story about children in preschool, and remind them what will happen. Take care to always honestly answer your child’s questions about what is happening, and do not give false information or assure your child that they will love the experience. Ideally, your chosen program will have a phase-in or bridge program if this is your child’s first experience away from you. This way they will have an opportunity to see the classroom, meet the teachers, and play with the toys while still having your presence for the first days or weeks. Many preschools also offer an open house for families before the school year begins. I would only recommend bringing your child to an open house if it is within one week or so of school starting because a child’s perception of time is quite different then an adult’s. Visiting their new program many weeks before actually starting could create unnecessary anxiety around the experience, or the child could forget about it, and the visit could serve little prepose. Remember that transitions can be difficult for children, so it may take time to feel comfortable in the new routine. Be patient. Hopefully these tips will help ease your child into this new and exciting experience.