I am writing this on August 8th and my kids are back in school. That's crazy early, I know, but this is our reality. Just as we got into the rhythm of the summer, it’s time to go back to school. It snuck up on us so quickly that I didn’t even have time to ease them into the transition. Needless to say, it was tough getting them out of bed this morning.
To save you from the same fate here is a list of 7 things you can do to ease back in the school routine and lower the anxiety of both kids and parents alike.
1. Ease into a New Sleep Schedule
Most kids stay up later and sleep in a little later in the summer. In order to reduce the shock to the system when they have to get up early to get to school try pushing bedtimes up before school starts (more for younger children, and suggest to teens to get to bed earlier).
2. Get Nourished
Help kids get the good nutrition they need to get through the school day with sustained energy. Begin with a healthy breakfast and try to have family dinner as often as possible during the week. When it comes to lunch, spend some time before school starts talking about what kinds of food they’ll eat at lunchtime (whether they bring it themselves or eat on campus) that will fuel their brain and bodies all day long.
3. Talk About Homework Before It Starts
Spend some time talking about homework and the expectations around getting it done. Make a plan for when, where and how homework will get finished. Consider creating a space, whether it’s a desk in the bedroom or a space at the kitchen table, where kids can do their homework with all the supplies they might need on hand. Agree on when homework gets done and try to stick to it daily as much as possible. Try to stick to a homework routine without any electronic devices unless they are required for the assignment.
4. Get to know Your School and Teacher
For some kids it can be really helpful to meet with teachers and staff and take a tour of their school or see their new classroom before the first day of school. Putting a face to a name or getting to know the campus ahead of time can go far in easing a child’s first-day anxiety, and yours too. And if your child will be getting to school on their own for the first time consider doing a trial run before the first day.
5. Stay Organized
Help your student create an organizational system to track assignments and keep track of handouts, homework and other important school papers. Check in with them about how it’s working about two weeks after school begins. Make tweaks and adjustments as needed. For new middle and high school Students, make sure they know how to find their assignments online and how to turn work in on line as well.
6. Create Good Study Habits
Talk with your child about study habits. This will be more relevant for older students but it is never too early to start practicing these skills. Help your child think about how they will stay on top of their assignments. For older students think through their strategies for studying for quizzes, tests and the completion of longer term assignments. Let them be part of the process of learning what works best for them. Consider yourself a guide rather than an expert. We all have different ways of learning, preparing and completing work.
7. Be Clear About Screen Time
If your household is anything like mine, the time my kids spend of the screen goes up over the summer. Now that school is about to begin, revisit your screen time guidelines and make sure everyone is clear about how much and what kind of “fun” screen time is allowed during the week and on the weekends during the school year. Agree on where devices should live if they are not needed for completing homework. And remember that powering down devices at least an hour before bed is an important part of ensuring that your child gets good quality sleep and is rested for school the next day.
The transition out of summer and back to school can be hard. You can ease the pain by spending a little time in preparation for the change of rhythm and routine. Hopefully a little pre planning and some time thinking through the back to school transition will make it all go more smoothly.
Ready or not, here we GO!
Jenny Michaelson is a PCI,
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