It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say. With fall and Halloween just around the corner the kids are going back to school. Although your summer has undoubtedly been wonderful, all good things must come to an end. As summer begins to wind down and you start to make plans to send your kids back to school, here are 10 mom-tested tips to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer back into the structure and routine of the school year.
Ease back into the routine. At least a week or so before school starts, get back into the basic time structure that you will follow once school begins. This means getting to bed at an appropriate time and arising early again as well. By easing into the early morning routine you will take away a lot of the extra stress that trying to rouse a sleepy child on the first day of school would bring. After getting up in the morning, get your child in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast too, as this will be an important part of his/her routine once school starts.
Turn off the TV. During the last few days before school starts, try making your mornings TV-free. TV is very distracting for children and once school starts they won’t have time to watch television in the early morning hours. Try having them read quietly or do puzzles instead, so they are used to not flipping on the TV once school begins.
Ease first day anxieties. If your child is experiencing some anxiety about school starting, assure them that this is completely normal. It will reassure your child to know that most of the other kids are a bit nervous too. Remind your child that teacher’s are fully expecting many of the kids to be a bit apprehensive and will make an extra effort to ease everyone’s fears.
Get the lay of the land. A lot of first day “unknowns” can be eased quite a bit by taking a tour of the school sometime prior to the first day. Meeting the teacher before the first day can also be very reassuring to a child so if you can arrange this, by all means, do it. Find your child’s classroom and make sure you also know the routes to the nearest restroom, the cafeteria as well as to the locker room.
Find a friend. Having a friend or a buddy to ride the bus or walk to school with on the first day is a huge relief for most kids. Arrange this in advance with another parent so your child will know whom he is walking/riding with. If you know when your child’s lunchtime is, having a friend that he can sit with at lunch will also be reassuring to him. If you feel it is appropriate, some parents find it very comforting to their children to take them to school themselves on the first day to alleviate some of the nerves.
Buy supplies. If your school publishes a list of school supplies that are required for your class, take it with you to the nearest store that sells back to school merchandise. Shop early for the best selection. Make sure your child has all the necessities for the first day, along with a good backpack with padded straps. Save your receipts as some teachers inevitably will make special requests for their classroom and you may need to make some exchanges or buy additional items later.
Get a first day outfit. If you go to the stores at this time of the year, you will notice they are filled with fall and winter clothing selections. Don’t be overly tempted to buy too many cooler weather clothes as it’s likely to still be warm for the next month or so and your child won’t need them yet. Make sure your child has an outfit appropriate for the first day of school that he/she feels comfortable in and is appropriate for the weather conditions in your area during this time of the year. It is also important to have a good pair of sturdy as well as comfortable shoes.
Plan some extracurricular stuff. If your child knows that going back to school isn’t all about school and there is also some fun involved, the transition is going to be a lot easier. If your child is into a sport, you can sign them up for an after-school team. There are also art and music classes in most communities that your child can participate in. Even a play date with a new friend can be a wonderful after school activity for most kids.
Make mornings less crazy. Plan your menu ahead of time and pack your kids lunches the night before so the morning routine will be less chaotic. Don’t forget a note of encouragement in your child’s lunch to help ease their first day jitters, it will bring a smile to their face. If you have more than one child you may want to schedule out bathroom time accordingly so there won’t be last minute bathroom wars on the first day of school which can be stressful for everyone.
Talk about it. After the first day of school and during the ensuing days be sure to find a time to talk to your child about how everything went. This is a great time to get any papers that have been sent home and also for your child to express any anxieties or worries that they may have. Stay calm and positive so your child will feel free to open up about whatever is going on during those initial days. Get in the habit of asking your child about their day and take the time to really listen to what they have to say.
The first day of school doesn’t have to be stressful for you or your child. With a bit of careful planning, transitioning into the new school year can be fun and exciting for everyone!