As our children’s long holidays come to an end and summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Hooray!
As with any new or potentially unsettling situation — like starting school for the first time or entering a new year or new school — allow kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday routine in no time.
Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as playing with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school supplies, and getting involved in sports and other activities.
It’s also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer reassurance: Are they afraid they won’t make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year?
Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If possible, it’s especially beneficial for parents to be home at the end of the school day for the first week. But many working parents just don’t have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.
To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also make sure that they: get enough sleep (establish a reasonable bedtime so that they’ll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning) eat a healthy breakfast (they’re more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day) have them organize and set out what they need the night before (homework and books should be put intheir backpacks by the door and clothes should be laid out in their bedrooms)
Here’s some more ideas to make a smooth transition back into the school timetable and get you and your children ready for the new school year.
- Take your kids shopping with you. Your kids will be more excited to use their back-to-school supplies if they picked them out. Doing so will help them feel prepared and will also provide an opportunity to talk about how the new supplies might be used in the coming year.
- Re-Establish School Routines
Use the last couple of weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning. Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.
It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. When the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJ’s after breakfast.
- Nurture Independence
Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organising his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework.
Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult.
- Create a Launch Pad
At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.
5. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework
Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.
- Pay a visit before school restarts
Try to pass by with your child a few days before school starts to pick up books, check timetables, meet the teachers.
- Make it a Family Affair
Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it.
- Talk early and often. It’s never too early to start talking with and listening to your children about the first day of school. Ask them what they think school will be like and see if they have any specific concerns so that you’ll have time to address it over the next couple of weeks. It’s totally normal to have first day jitters.
Of course, for many parents it’s also a time of celebration as the school routines herald the return of some structured time in the day, but try not to celebrate TOO loudly! Happy days!