The anticipation of a new school year can induce many feelings for both parents, and their kids. These feelings may stem from a list of uncertainties about what the upcoming year may look like. To relieve some stress and anxiety for you and your child, check off these simple tips to make the transition back to school as seamless as possible.
Anticipate their needs NOW
Begin collecting school supplies early to avoid the back-to-school week rush. There is nothing more stressful than trying to find binders and highlighters in a heard of other panicked parents the night before school.
Communicate about their concerns
Initiate a conversation with your child about their concerns for the upcoming year. This is particularly important if your child is advancing to a new level (ie. elementary, middle, or high), or changing schools all together. You both can also discuss what was successful in the previous year and what was not.
Work with the school
The key to a successful school year is the relationship between the parent and the teachers. Before the year begins, introduce yourself to your child's teachers and provide them with your contact information and ask for theirs. You want to take a proactive approach, not reactive.
Set Goals together
Sit down with your child and ask them what goals they have for the school year and be as specific as possible. Then, ask them "why" they chose this as a goal; this helps establish independence and accountability. This conversation is a good time for you to make your expectations known, aim for "progress not perfection". Also, make rewards for meeting your expectations clear and timely.
Establish a sleep schedule
At least a week preceding school, establish a sleep schedule that mirrors what is expected during the school year and adhere to it. This will make the new schedule less of a shock to the system when its time to go back to school.
Increase their independence
Have a clear everyday routine set in place for your child to increase levels of independence and to take a load off of you. This can look like a printed checklist of personal responsibilities such as: "brush teeth, comb hair, have breakfast, and make the bed" before school, and "feed dog, set dinner table, complete homework, and take out the trash" after school.
Don't stop having fun
Summer fun can shut off like a switch for some kids, which can send the message of "When school is in session, the fun stops", which is unhealthy. You can continue fun family activities to give your child some rest and relaxation throughout the school year. We all perform better when we have something to look forward to. Have a weekend at the beach, go to a local theme park, or host a barbecue at home.
Get their brains in motion
The week before school, have an interactive week of learning. For example, Monday you can go to the zoo and see who can identify the most animals or learn an interesting fact about them. Tuesday you can go to the museum and review the arts. Wednesday you can host a cooking class and discuss mathematics in recipe measurements. Thursday you can produce a scientific explosion (safely of course) with following directions via a Pinterest or YouTube tutorial. Friday you can watch a movie and have an intellectual discussion on the main idea, problem, solution, characters, and recall story sequence of events.
Remember to remain optimistic about the possibilities of a new school year. It is encouraged to modify routines to fit the needs of your child, so be flexible and patient, and your child will follow suit.