As summer days come to an end, re-adjusting to your children’s school schedule can initially be a burdensome change for the entire family—reacquainting yourselves with new schedules, bed-times and agendas may be accompanied with a few challenging learning curves and speed bumps along the way. Below are a few tips that can make this transitory period a little smoother for the entire family:
Perhaps one of the best things you can do for both you and your children as you step into the back-to-school craze is to create a routine that is dependable, consistent and will help create an outline of daily expectations.
- Sit down and talk with your kids before school starts to discuss new and upcoming schedules. Use this time to talk with them about certain aspects of the day that you expect to be foundational and unwavering, as well as personal goals, needs and desires that they envision and are excited for in their daily lives. Having activities to look forward to in the upcoming school season can help mold your child’s perception of a more methodical schedule from a hindering experience to a positive one.
- Establish a concrete bed time, if you don’t already have one. Substantial sleep can not only make or break your child’s day and attitude (whether they acknowledge this as the cause or not), but it also allows you, as the parent, to have time in your day that you can dedicate to personal tasks and restoration. One strategy to get your children accustomed to their new expected bed time is by having them go down 10-15 minutes earlier than the night before for the last week or two of summer. This way, by the time the first day of school rolls around, they’ll be accustomed to being in bed at a healthy time that will set them up for a successful school day.
- If you have a full household and varying activities to keep up with, it may be helpful to use a calendar for the entire family and keep it posted on a wall or the fridge. Keep the after-school schedule on it, as well as any appointments. This will allow you and your children to see everyone’s schedule so that nothing is missed or comes as a surprise.
Every household’s back to school regiment will look different, but no matter your circumstances, make sure you and your children are staying connected through quality time and open communication. Being on the same page and understanding your children’s fears, concerns and excitements can help make the transition easier on the entire family.
- Sit down and talk with your children before the school season starts to understand any concerns they may have for this next year. If they’re nervous about their bus route, practice walking with them the week before school so they can build confidence. If they’ve experienced bullying, help them understand that you are a safe place for them to confide. If they’re showing signs of separation anxiety from you, write them notes in their lunch to remind them you’re always thinking of them. There are a number of things that children may be nervous or concerned about, and knowing that you are their greatest confidant and supporter can help make the jump into a new year a little less nerve-wracking (it can also help give you insight into any unusual or difficult behavior they may be showcasing).
- Limiting technology use in the mornings is a great way to facilitate open communication between you and your children. Sanction your morning routine to be a time of getting ready, eating and sharing your thoughts and goals for the day.
- If possible, make it a priority to attend a few fall school events involving your child’s class. Being acquainted with their teacher and classmates can help your child feel comfortable opening-up about their days at school in a more in-depth manner, knowing that you can match faces to names and can envision their day having seen and experienced their school setting yourself.
Amid a new schedule, sometimes it can be easy to get so hyper-focused on the practical tasks that need to get accomplished that we forget the importance of play in our children’s lives, and even our own. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.” In summary—play is good for the heart, mind and soul!
- When creating your child’s schedule, make relaxation and play time during the week just as much of a priority as after-school events, sports, and obligations. Allow your children to have time for care-free fun after school. Believing that there is time in their day for this will hopefully eliminate the common thinking that ‘summer is for fun and the school year is for work’. Knowing that fun and exciting events will be a priority year-round can help facilitate a sense of excitement in your children as they begin school.
- Take advantage of weekends! If you and your children have a particularly task-forward week, take full advantage of the weekends to let loose and do something that brings the whole family a sense of joy. Whether this is going to an amusement park, on a hike, to a local event, hanging with friends around the neighborhood or just laying low and playing board games or watching movies, allow those two days to really be a time of play and relaxation for everyone.