Are you ready for back to school? If not, no worries! Whether your kid is moving up to high school or starting their first day of kindergarten, it’s natural to feel anxiety about going back to school, both as a parent and a child. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to make things easier for everyone. To help out, we’ve compiled the top 6 back to school tips for a stress-free transition.
1. Bedtime and Other Routines
Routines might not make you popular with your kids, but they’re crucial for back to school success. For kids, the summer lends itself to going to bed and waking up just about whenever. Since they don’t technically have to follow a sleep schedule, they often won’t. But, when it’s time to settle back into good habits for school, the transition comes as a shock.
To remedy this, normalize routine bedtimes and wake-up times in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Sleep plays an important role in a child’s physical and emotional development, and a proper sleep schedule is the most important factor in any good transition back to school.
So, the kids are going to bed and waking up on time. Problem solved, right? Not quite! You’ll have to make some routines for yourself as well. As for your sleep schedule, aim to wake up well before the kids do. This will give you a little time to prepare for the day ahead and relax before the rush begins. Make yourself available to fuel the kids with a hearty breakfast, and keep them on time as they have showers, brush their teeth, etc.
After-school routines are important too. Successful students make a habit of doing homework and studying every night, so it’s essential to make homework a routine to promote success. And you can start an after-school routine during the summer! “Homework” time can look like reading, doing a puzzle, researching something your kids find interesting (like healthy school lunches!), or working on a summer journal. If you would like some more ideas to keep the kids busy, check out our top 6 summer activities.
Most importantly, don’t establish these routines without a reason. Your kids might not fully understand why the routines are important, so keep them in the loop with candid conversation. You can say things like, “When you’re in school, we do these routines to help you, me, our family, your teachers, and everybody in your life to be successful!” or, “Your dream of becoming [insert career here] will involve lots of routine, so it’s important to start now!”
2. Prepare the Night Before
- Make lunches and fill water bottles
- Pack bags with homework, gym strip, library books, etc.
- Set out breakfast options
- Schedule bathroom times
- Pick out clothes
Here are some things to consider when working out the above:
- Do your kids have a lunch pack? Backpack? School supplies?
- What will your kids eat for breakfast and lunch? Is it healthy? Is there anything you can prepare on the weekends to make lunches easier?
- Do you have non-leak water bottles? Did you label them?
- Start having the conversations about bathroom routines! Who gets which bathroom when?
As with each of these back to school tips, keep the conversation flowing around, “When you’re back in school, we do this preparation as it helps you, me, our family, your teachers, and everybody in your life to be successful!”
3. The 10-Minute Advantage
Plan to leave the house 10 minutes before you actually have to! This will give you plenty of allowance if there’s some sort of delay in the routine. Some people achieve this by setting their clocks 10 minutes fast—it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it works!
You could also try getting up a little earlier to make things easier. Whatever it takes to get out the door on time! Giving yourself and your kids an extra 10 minutes means it’s not the end of the world to be 10 minutes later than usual, and that will greatly reduce everyone’s stress levels.
If your kids try to fight back against the 10-minute advantage, remind them how it’s working to help them find success in school and life as a whole. Keep the conversation positive, and give them real reasons to adhere to the rule.
4. Plan a Back to School Celebration
Learning is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated. Since school is a place of learning, why not celebrate going back to school?
Arranging a back to school celebration is a great way to take the stress away. This helps kids associate going back to school with something positive instead of something negative. The celebration could be something so simple as spending the day together, or it might look something more like a birthday party with friends and a cake. Get creative with it!
5. Extra-Curricular Activities
Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make kids more excited about going back to school. When scheduling extra-curricular activities, quality is more important than quantity! Take the time to find out what your kids like doing the most. It’s better to sign them up for one or two activities they really enjoy instead of a bunch that they view with indifference. This will help your child feel more engaged with the back to school process.
If finances are a concern, use free community resources like the library. Libraries have clubs (Lego clubs, reading clubs, etc.) that meet regularly. Or, source out scholarships that pay for such programming. There are tons of options out there!
6. Open Lines of Communication with the School
By opening lines of communication with the school, you can get a better understanding of the school’s expectations and how your kids are doing. Knowing what the school expects can make going back to school (and the rest of the school year) a lot easier. You can contact teachers and principals through email or phone, but make sure to ask them their preferred medium for further correspondence.
You can also take a more active role by volunteering at school if your schedule allows. There are many opportunities with various time commitments. Volunteering gives you a chance to play a bigger part in your child’s success by supporting them directly and showing that you care about what goes on at school. Try it out!
When you communicate with the school, don’t leave your kid out of the conversation. Give them an opportunity to chime in and say their piece—their point of view is valuable! And make sure to let them know what their teacher says. It might be adult-talk, but it’s about them, so they deserve to know what’s going on too!
To Summarize these Back to School Tips…
The one major unifying theme with each of these tips is communication. There’s a reason why people always say communication is essential for healthy relationships, and it’s just as true for your child’s relationship with school. Talk to them often and with honesty about school-related things, and you’ll realize that going back to school (and staying there) won’t feel nearly as daunting.
When kids truly understand the “why” behind what they’re doing, their engagement and interest both increase exponentially! Why not start the school year that way? You can use these back to school tips to help your kids understand the importance of organization and routine. This will ensure that the whole family can move forward without stress…and that’s a wonderful thing!
Let us know how these back to school tips help you and your family just like they helped Jean and John:
“THANK YOU for your wonderful expert advice on how to transition Johnny back to school! We followed your easy back to school tips, and mornings don’t seem too crazy anymore!”
– Jean and John, parents of an anxious child
Feel free to contact us to share your own back to school tips. We would love to hear from you!
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