This week, school is starting back up after the long summer break. Whether it’s going to Kindergarten for the first time or that final year of school, the transition from the lazy days of summer back into a strict routine can be a challenge for parents and children – so our experts are sharing their top tips for making the process as smooth as possible.
Talk to your child about going back to school:
Tell them what a typical day might look like starting with getting up in the morning and ending with going to bed at night. Ask them if they have any questions and ask them how it makes them feel to be going back to school (Ex: excited to see/meet friends, nervous about the new teacher, etc).
Make the transition easier – start the bedtime and mealtime routine at least a week before school starts.
Structure, structure, structure:
Write out an evening and a morning routine with your children, including a checklist to make things less hectic. Be consistent and do things in the same order (Ex: Homework, then dinner, then chore, then free time, then shower, then reading, then bed.) If your children are out the door on time, with everything they need for the day, they will feel less stressed and ready for success. And don’t wait till the last minute: re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines at least a week before school starts – this will make the transition back to school smoother.
Get involved early on:
Visit the school in advance of the first school day and meet the teacher. Seeing the school grounds, classrooms, and the playground and talking to the teacher will help reduce any anxiety the child might be experiencing. It will also allow the child to ask any questions or explore the unknown environment with a someone they trust
Start before school does:
Go shopping for healthy snack and lunch items with your child. Keep snack choices in an accessible spot and empower your child to pick out and label his or her snack every day (or – even better – the night before).
Jazz up your child’s water bottle and the water itself – this will keep them drinking during those hot months.
Make it fun to stay hydrated:
Jazz up your child’s water bottle and the water itself: let your children experiment with lemon, lime, mint, cucumber – get creative! Variety will keep them drinking during these hot months.
Get to know your child’s school life:
Ask the teacher for the daily schedule – having this information will allow you to talk to your child about what they will be doing and experiencing each day. At the end of the day, ask specific questions like “What do your friends think of your reading teacher?” or “What did you like best about school today?” This will help you understand your child’s experience more.
For older children: Now that they are older, it is important to allow them to be part of the process of planning their schedule. Set up a quiet place and create a plan with your child about when they will do homework daily. Do they work best right when they get home or do they need a break? Allow them some control by working together to establish a plan and stick to it everyday.
For first timers: If it’s your child’s first experience in a school setting, whether it’s Pre-K or later, read a book together that addresses parent-child separation. This can be a challenging issue for parents and children alike, so face it head on. (Recommended: a popular choice is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn)
Still have more questions or need help with back-to-school resources like school supplies and immunizations? Call 2-1-1 to get connected to services.