Back to school, back to reality
Let's make that reality a bit less 'hair-pulling-out' frustrating
When the end of the summer holidays is on the horizon, anxiety and disappointment might lurk around the corner for your kids and yourself. After a long period of lazy days, sleeping in, and maybe indulging in too much ice cream, the words "BACK TO SCHOOL" can sound daunting.
Here are 15 back-to-school tips to make this not-so-fun period way more exciting and something to look forward to. With a little bit of preparation and effort, everyone will be all smiles in the morning. No more rushed mornings and frustrating moments ;-)
GET IN ROUTINE
1. Get A Headstart On The School Routine
After a long summer holiday with relaxed routines, prepare the kids for school by returning to a school routine at least two weeks before school starts. Get them to sleep and wake up at a standard, age-appropriate time.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for optimal functioning, concentration, and school learning. Here's how many hours of sleep your child needs.
2. Prepare For A Good Night's Sleep
A consistent bedtime routine and the ideal conditions will help your child to settle and fall asleep much easier. Follow a nighttime routine, i.e., no technology an hour before bedtime - bathtime - reading time - tucking them in - putting on a nightlight - ideal sleeping temperatures - goodnight kisses.
3. Talk About It
Children are often anxious about unfamiliar situations such as a new school, class, teacher, or grade. Have a discussion about going back to school and let your child express their fears or concerns. Try to address them or suggest solutions and reassure them that many other kids feel the same and they are not alone. You could even resonate with them by telling your own back-to-school story.
Focus on all the positive aspects of starting school to get them excited. Do this before school starts and check in regularly when school has begun.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
4. Get Into A School Mindset
Start waking up your child's brain by getting into learning mode. Have them complete any summer assignments or set aside time daily for reading and learning exercises. Practice some light literacy, math, problem-solving, creativity, memory, and social skills.
Doing chores around the home is also a great way to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability and encourage independence.
5. Do A Dummy Run
Most schools are open a few days or weeks before the kids start, giving you the perfect opportunity to do a dummy run. Take your child to visit the school and get familiar with the terrain, classroom, and playroom. They could also meet their teacher, and it gives you a chance to address any concerns. Attend any orientations if your child is going to a new school to ease the transition.
6. Stock Up On Supplies (Always a Fun One)
We all know how exciting it is to get something new or write with a glitter pen! Stocking up on school supplies is a fantastic way to get the kids excited for the new school year. Having all the right tools will make a child (and you) feel prepared and in control.
Get a supply list from the school and involve them in the choosing and buying process to build up excitement. Start early, before the rush, to avoid long lines and last-minute anxiety.
7. Prepare A Homework Station
Set up a workstation where all school supplies are within reach, and your child can focus on the task without distractions. Create a message board/ calendar where the whole family can keep track of schedules and appointments. A visual schedule with fun images is excellent for the little ones.
9. Clean Out The Clutter and Organize The Home
An organized home can make life much less chaotic. When everything has its place, it is easier to navigate and find things, saving you time and frustration. Go through your kids' wardrobes, throw out or donate old clothes, sort out desks and play areas, etc.
Have a space where backpacks, hats, raincoats, boots, and sports equipment are stored to grab on your way out quickly. Keep a file for vaccination records, report cards, contractual agreements, and important documents.
10. Prepare For Smooth Mornings
Get into the habit of making your morning smoother and less chaotic. Start setting the alarm and see how much time you need to get everything done in the mornings. Follow a checklist to establish a morning routine and get into the habit.
Discuss bathroom schedules to avoid fights. Prepare backpacks and lunches the night before. Pick out one or two outfits per weekday to make the choices easier and quicker in the morning.
11. Make A List of Meal Ideas
When kids eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast and lunch, they function better and have higher concentration and energy levels. If the school provides meals, check the meal plan to see if you need to add something or pack their own lunch when your child does not or cannot eat it.
Make a weekly meal plan or have meal ideas on hand if you have to provide the meals. This will help you to be prepared, save time, and ensure your children are getting all the correct nutrition. Don't forget water bottles for the kids to stay hydrated!
12. Research After-School Activities Or Childcare
After-school activities are a great way to keep your child engaged, social and active. It might also give you some time to get things done and organized. If you are working, make arrangements for after-school pickup and care, whether with a family member or after-school program. Make sure they follow your rules and routine to be consistent in schedules and discipline.
READY, SET, GO
13. Arrange A Playdate
Find another child (or more) in the neighborhood that goes to the same school or class as your child. Let them meet and get to know each other. They will have someone to ride the bus or walk to school with and sit with during lunches. This way, they will be less anxious and already feel more comfortable.
14. Talk About Safety
Unfortunately, we live in an unperfect world with danger lurking around the corner. Review safety rules like how to cross a street, avoiding unfamiliar routes or places, being cautious in talking to strangers, etc.
15. Remember To Keep it Fun
For many of us, school was not the most fun part of our day. And this might be the same for your child. As kids, it is difficult to concentrate for long periods; they may not find the work interesting; or even struggle to make friends.
Regularly check in, ask if they are ok, and have an hour a day where you just have fun. It also helps to have an activity-free and no-schoolwork day where you as a family can relax and enjoy each other's company.