For those of you who live in North America, it’s back to school time once again. Sadly, this means that the fun and festivities of summer vacation are coming to a close. (as a college educator, my summer break is also coming to a close).
Regardless of how excited your little-one is about adjusting from his summer schedule to his back to school schedule, the transition can be challenging. The key is to be proactive instead of reactive and work out all of the bugs associated with the back to school routine in advance. For your convenience, I’m offering 15 key strategies to consider as you ease your family into the new routine.
Back to school considerations:
Move bedtime up every night for several nights. Moving kids from their summer time schedule and getting them in sync with the back to school schedule is a process. For example, waking kids up on Monday morning and expecting them to make the adjustment abruptly will only drain your energy, destroy your peace, and steal your joy. One way to ease into the new routine is to start having kids read in bed for half an hour or more before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills. (for younger children, consider reading with them or to them.) Rest assured that most kids will have some “back to school” jitters. They won’t sleep well the first few school nights so shifting their bedtime can help ease the transition. Another way to get prepared for back to school is to…
Wake up the late sleepers a bit earlier each day. Waking up your late sleeper a bit earlier each day helps him adjust before the pressures of back to school start to increase. For children who struggle to fall asleep at night, be sure they’re getting plenty of outside physical activity during this transitional period.
Check out the school (or at least the playground) with your child. Just walking the campus can give kids the assurance they need. It helps them discover where their classroom is and other important landmarks like the restrooms and playground areas. Let your child use the school restroom, if the school will allow it, before the school year starts.
Walk the walk. If your child will be walking alone, practice the walking route several times together. Have him demonstrate that he knows how to use the crosswalks properly.
More back to school considerations:
Meet the teacher. If at all possible, introduce your child to the teacher. Even more, try to take a picture of your child with the teacher. Then, put it on your fridge at your child’s eye level. Doing so, helps incorporate his teacher into your family’s life.
Set up play-dates. Find out who is in his class and schedule some play time right away so he feels more connected when he enters the classroom that first day. If possible, you can consider walking with one of the kids in his class (and their parent) the first couple of mornings.
Get him mentally and emotionally prepared. For starters, you can describe to him what that first day will be like, how the drop-off will go, who will pick him up, etc. Then, ask if he has any worries or concerns and then listen to his worries or concerns. Go ahead and reassure him that you believe he can handle those challenges. In addition, you can brainstorm with him about how he could handle those issues. Don’t forget to slip a note in his backpack or lunch box to let him know “I’m on your team!”
Process the changes together. Since getting prepared for back to school is a family affair, do it together. For example, talk about after school activities, chores, and screen time on school days versus screen time on the weekend. The key here is to include your child, share the control, and embrace the change in routine as a family.
More back to school considerations:
Figure out school supplies together. Each child operates differently so it’s important to help him figure out what school supplies work best for him. For example, does he want a glue stick or a glue bottle? Does he want two rulers: one for home and one for his desk at school? These important questions not only help him get ready for school, they help him discover how best to manage his life. This process pays huge dividends when kids go to college one day because they will know exactly what school supplies work and which one’s don’t.
Find home plate. The question here is where do school books, supplies, backpacks, and lunchboxes go when kids get home? I call that space “home plate.” Rather than just tell kids where things go, do something different. Discuss the best place for home plate this school year, and do it together. Also, process a homework spot for your child to work that fits his temperament. Some kids like it noisy, others like it quiet. Some kids like to lay on the floor, some kids like to sit up at a desk. The key is make home plate a good fit for everyone in the family, including parents.
Plan out the first day BEFORE the first day. The key is to be proactive rather than reactive with the back to school routines. Starting on Sunday afternoon, before anyone is tired from that day’s activities, have the kids pick out their school outfits. Then, have them put everything in their backpacks. Lastly, discuss their lunches and have fun as you make them together. Since most kids tend to have the “I’m starting school again” jitters, you don’t want to wait until later in the evening when everyone is feeling the time crunch. Planning out the first day early ensures that you take a thoughtful approach to the back to school routine. Even more, it ensures that everyone is cool, calm, and connected during the process.
More back to school considerations:
Don’t forget to celebrate. After everyone is packed up and ready for school to start, it’s time to celebrate the summer in style. Celebrate the summer by having an early dinner the night before school starts and talk about the summer activities. Ask everyone what their favorite part of summer was. Then, consider going around the table and affirming everyone. “I appreciate how Logan picked up after himself this summer.” … “I appreciate how hard Amanda worked at learning to ride her bike.”
Get yourself to bed early. Your children need you to be at your best, especially on the first day of school. If you want to wake up refreshed and ready for the last-minute issues that always arise, then do yourself a favor and hit the sack early. This will help ensure that your batteries are charged so you can deal patiently with any last-minute jitters or minor crises that arise.
Wake up early. Getting up 15-30 minutes before your kids do ensures that you have cared for yourself first (very important). It also ensures that are ready for your day to begin. Waking up early sets you up to be proactive rather than reactive about the back to school changes.
Beat the crowd and get there early. The first day of school brings large crowds and plenty of traffic problems. For those of you who will be dropping your kids off at school, the key is to not only arrive early but also arrive RELAXED. Do yourself a favor and plan to arrive a good 15 minutes early the first few days. The worst thing that can happen is you will get a good parking spot, your kids play with other kids, and you will get to connect with the parents you haven’t seen during the summer.
A Point To Ponder
The difference between parents who are proactive or reactive is how prepared they are when the back to school routine to begins.
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...