Opinion 09:15 19 Aug 2023

Gentle preparation for school. When to start and how to act right

Iryna Basista, a psychologist and methodologist of the "Unbreakable Mom" program from the Masha Fund, explains how to reduce stress for children and parents at the beginning of the school year.

Returning to any work and schedule after a long vacation is difficult even for adults. So imagine how difficult it is for children after three months of summer vacation. The task of parents is to provide children with the most comfortable preparation for school. We will tell you how to do it.

Psychologist Iryna Basista recommends starting psychological preparation for school two weeks in advance. School supplies, clothing, and conversations in the media and among children can introduce children to the "school mode," but it is essential to discuss learning, safety, and plans with children. It's important to speak with children over the age of 10 about as many nuances as possible as they have previous experience that can increase their anxiety levels. 

It is no less crucial to prepare younger students, especially first graders. Here you need to speak an accessible language and choose words that are understandable for the child. Remember to be honest with the child while also careful and protecting their psyche.

Three rules of psychological preparation for school

  • Rule #1

Gradually adjust the child's waking time to the school routine, starting 15 minutes earlier each day until they reach the desired time. This can help reduce stress levels in September. 

  • Rule #2

Gradually reintroduce learning to your child's routine. Begin with 20 minutes of material review per day, increasing by 10-15 minutes daily. Utilize weekends but limit workload to reading or math. Establish a consistent time that works for both you and your child, allowing for necessary supervision. Remember to acknowledge and reward your child's initiative.

  • Rule #3

We should remember that effective support tools include encouragement and positive reinforcement. Emphasize to the child that learning is not a punishment. When stressed, children find learning more challenging. If the child disobeys, add discipline and cause-and-effect relationships. 

  • And one more tip

Due to the war, Ukrainian children often change schools. If your child will attend a new school on September 1st, plan an excursion to visit the school beforehand. Together, find multiple routes from home to the school, discuss expectations and fears, and figure out ways to support your child during the school-life adaptation period.


The "Unbreakable Mom" program is implemented with the technical support of UN Women. It is financed by the UN Women's Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF), which is a flexible and operational financing tool. The WPHF supports quality measures to increase the capacity of local women in conflict prevention, crisis response, and emergencies, and leveraging key peacebuilding opportunities. 

WPHF provides emergency funding to local women's civil society organizations (CSOs) in Ukraine. With technical support from UN Women, WPHF funds women's organizations and women-led CSOs to support their critical work on the front lines, provide urgent humanitarian assistance to women refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.


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