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Back-to-School Transition: As Easy as ABC?

by Janine Boylan on August 26, 2013

Teens during the back-to-school transition

Rushing back to class
© Thinkstock

Parent + Student = Different Perspectives

Children and parents around the country are preparing for the grand upheaval known as back to school.

While children shudder as the careless summer evaporates, a collective parental sigh of relief greets the dawning of a regular school schedule.

Students preparing to go back to school will face:

  • the elation of finally seeing friends again
  • the misery of making sack lunches
  • the challenge of getting supplies organized
  • and the ultimate struggle: getting up early.

How do their perspectives on the above compare to their parents’?


One student declared, “What I love about school is that I get to see my friends and enjoy every day with them. I haven’t seen them all summer!”

Her parent’s perspective was a little different. “Seems like there was a lot of seeing friends this summer. Sure, it was online through Instagram, Vine, Twitter, and Facebook, but they were connected.”

Kids, who talk with friends over the summer, have an easier back-to-school transition. (Image © Janine Boylan)

The ever-present electronic device
© Janine Boylan

The facts: Teens are very connected. A 2013 Pew Research Center report notes:

  • 95% of teens use the internet
  • 81% of those online teens use some kind of social media (SM)
  • 77% of online teens use Facebook; 24% of online teens use Twitter
  • the typical teen Facebook user has 300 friends
  • 42% of teen SM users visit their sites multiple times per day

How will this translate to school?

Cal State Dominguez Hills professor Dr. Larry D. Rosen shares that those students who check their SM once every fifteen minutes, not surprisingly, will be negatively affected by the distraction.

But, he says, research shows that social media helps shy students to become more outgoing. And SM can provide tools to engage students in learning.

School Lunches

Another student laments,I don’t like having to make my lunch every day. It’s boring to have the same thing over and over.”

Her parent shrugs, “How fun can a sandwich be?”

Confused sandwich, illustrating different perspectives of the back-to-school transition. (Image © Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch)

© Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch

Spider sandwich, illustrating different perspectives on the back-to-school transition. (Image © Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch)

© Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch

Inspiration: Mark Northeast found that his son Oscar was bored by his lunches, too. Northeast decided to do something about it, and the first Funky Lunch was born.

Of course, it helps that Northeast has the creative ability to look at a slice of ham, some bread, and a cucumber and see a comical cartoon.

He says the sandwiches take him 10–15 minutes to make. Might take the rest of us a bit longer.

Piano sandwich, illustrating different perspectives on the back-to-school transition. (Image © Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch)

© Mark Northeast/Funky Lunch

Getting Organized

A student admits, “Organization is not really my thing. That’s what’s so hard about school—getting my stuff together.”

The parental response: “You’ve got that right. By Thanksgiving, I’ll be afraid to look in your backpack.”

Stuffed backpack, an object of different perspectives during the back to school transition. (Image © Janine Boylan)

Back-to-school stuffing
© Janine Boylan

Some expert ideas: Psychology professor, Dr. Nancy Darling emphasizes that parents should focus on the process and logistics of homework rather than just the content. Parents should encourage students to:

  • organize school work in a single place, like an accordion folder, so assignments don’t get left in a locker.
  • use an assignment book. Students should write down work on the day it is assigned. If the task isn’t completed in one day, they should rewrite it in their assignment books on the next day and so on until it is done.
  • put a bright colored sticky note or paperclip on work that is due so they don’t forget to turn it in. No one gets credit for work left in a backpack.

Waking Up

“Summer is great because you don’t have to do anything, and you can get up any time you want,” a student shares. “But I’m still fine with getting up and going to school every morning. That doesn’t affect me that much.”

The parent’s perspective: “Last year, I had to go into his room five times every morning just to try to get him up. I guess it didn’t affect him. It affected me!”

Extreme solution: Look into building this bed. (Fast forward to about 47 seconds.)

If the video does not display, watch it here.

A Matter of Perspective

Parents and their children may have some different perspectives on going back to school, but—Oh, I see—the funniest thing about being a parent is that you were once the child.

Sure, parents are a little taller and perhaps a little more organized than their student-selves, but back-to-school time is exciting for everyone—it’s exciting to see friends, it’s exciting to be back on a regular schedule, and it’s exciting to learn new skills like organizing.

Here’s to another great school year!

See how another creative dad made some inspired school lunches.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


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