It’s soon back to school time for kids and the inevitable problems will need to be addressed. How can you get back on that early to bed, early to rise schedule? How can you best communicate with teachers? What is the best way to encourage kids to work hard and do their best while at school and with their nightly homework, and all the rest of the questions that are associated with school and learning. Here are some tips for making that back to school transition as smooth as possible.
1) Anticipate the schedule change and move bedtimes earlier by increments over several weeks before the beginning day of school. Going to bed fifteen minutes earlier isn’t a big deal and it will help to avoid that drastic change from the relaxed summer schedule to the rigid, up and at’em schedule of fall. It is also a good idea to incorporate some morning chores into the new routine so that the first school morning won’t be such a shock. If they’re up at 7:00 a.m. and have eaten breakfast, put dishes in the dishwasher, dressed and gathered up their school supplies and lunches by 8:00 a.m. they’ll be organized and ready for their new day.
2) Make back to school shopping fun and reasonable. The supply lists may be long and costly so do your best to get a head start on that. But for school clothes you may want to shop sales for a few new outfits and then wait until after school begins to buy any other necessary clothing items. You’ll avoid the rush of other back to school shoppers and you may get better bargains afterward. Another tip is to take careful stock of each child’s existing wardrobe and see where to fill in. You may be able to minimize the items purchased by adding some classic colors and styles to what is already in the closet.
3) Take advantage of any back to school or meet the teacher open houses at the schools. Most of kids’ worries and concerns about school revolve around unknowns such as the location of bathrooms and classrooms, the identity of their new teacher, and the friends who may be in their class. A thirty minute visit to school before the opening day will do a lot to dispel such worries.
4) Make discussion about the upcoming school positive. This is not the time to relate unhappy stories about your own school experiences. It’s a time to encourage, speak about your confidence in each student’s abilities, build enthusiasm for school and after-school activities and let your student know how much you trust them to succeed. If children have stayed active in academics over the summer, all the better. If not, get back into the reading routine before school starts.
5) Re-establish homework expectations each evening. Be sure there is a time and place for doing homework and protect that time.You may need to have a family meeting to set new expectations for television and video games, sports and other activities that compete with homework time. A weekly schedule of family events posted on the wall is a big help to some families.
6) Look for signs that your child is concerned about school. If sleep habits or eating habits change, of if your child voices some worries about school, take the time to talk about them. Some children fear bullying behavior on buses or on playgrounds. Be sure to assure them that both you and school staff members will protect them.
No matter how old your children are, there are bound to be some excitement and jitters when the first day of school rolls around. Let the day be an exciting one, but not a scary or negative experience. Remind your children that teachers are a little nervous on the first day of school as well. How can they be an encouragement to others on that first day? The first day of school is like a nice,clean sheet of paper. Do all you can to be sure that the writing done on day one spells out the beginning of a wonderful year.
Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Ruth Peters, a clinical psychologist, about back to school issues.