It’s back-to-school time, and that means it’s time to prepare. How can you get back on that early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule? How can you best communicate with teachers? How will you encourage your kids to work hard and do their best while at school and also with homework?
Here are tips for making that back to school transition as smooth as possible.
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 avoid that drastic change from the relaxed summer schedule to the rigid, up-and-at-’em schedule of fall.
It’s 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.
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. 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.
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.
Make discussion about the upcoming school year 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 child’s abilities, build enthusiasm for school and after-school activities, and let your child know how much you trust her 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.
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 screen time, sports, and other activities that compete with homework time. A weekly schedule of family events posted on the wall is a big help to many families.
Look for signs your child is concerned about returning to school. If sleep habits or eating habits change or if your child voices 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 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. Ask 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 the writing done on day one spells out the beginning of a wonderful year.
Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She is the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net