Summers always go by so quickly, and this one is no exception. It is hard for me to believe that some schools are starting in just three weeks. Growing up in Chicago, we went back to school the Tuesday after Labor day…every single year. So school in mid-August seems wrong! But it is what it is, and so to get ready, here are a few ideas.
It is not too early to begin planning for your children’s return to school. One idea is to transition your kids slowly from their summer schedule to their school hours and routines. For two weeks before school starts, have your kids go to bed and wake up at the times they will for school. For the same weeks, eat meals at the times they will on school days. Their little bodies take time to adjust to new a new schedule.
Some children are nervous about being left alone at school and will have a difficult time saying good-bye. Remember that a short good-bye is better than a long one. When leaving your child at school on the first day, or when you say good-bye at the school bus stop, give your child a hug and a kiss and say “Have fun at school! You can tell me all about it when you get home”. And then just walk away with a wave and a smile. If you are confident and excited about saying good-bye, then your child will have the same positive feelings, and will have a great start to their school day.
Some children are also nervous about meeting new people. Before school begins, practice with your children what it will be like to meet their new teacher and new classmates. Teach your children to listen carefully to their teacher so that they learn the classroom rules and the teacher’s expectations. Encourage your kids to introduce themselves to at least one child who was not in their classroom last year. Talk about how most children are nervous, and that it is a kind thing to reach out to a new student who might not know anyone.
Children (and parents) want to feel confident and prepared when they start a new school year. Buy school supplies while the local stores are fully stocked. Take the kids with so they can try on a new backpack, and allow them to select their own school materials. Pack all the supplies into the backpack when you get home, and you both will be ready for the first day.
If your child is going to walk or ride their bike to school, practice the route with your child at least twice before the first day of school. If biking, teach your child to walk their bikes through all intersections, to bike in a single file, and to always wear their helmet. Explain that they are not allowed to pass another biker, as this will force them into traffic. For the children who walk to school, see if you can find a walking buddy. It’s always safer and more fun to walk with someone else. And of course, if you drive children to school, always make sure every child is properly buckled every time!
Mornings are often a hectic time, and we often feel stressed by trying to get out of the house on time. To make mornings easier, make lunches the night before, leaving only the refrigerated items to be packed in the morning. Have each child lay out their clothes, including shoes, the night before, and have them put their backpacks by the front door.
Doing some preparation the night before can make a much smoother morning, and have everyone leaving the house happy and calm.
To keep track of everyone’s schedules, post a family event calendar in a public place preferably near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or just hang it on the wall. Assign a different marker color to each family member, and write events in the corresponding color for each person. A bulletin board in the kitchen is also be very helpful to post school lunches, sports schedules, and notes that must go back to school. Take time every night to discuss the next day’s schedule and make sure all items are ready.
Whether your children have had a good day or a bad day at school, they want to tell their parents about it when they get home. It is important that all children are able to talk about anything and everything with their parents. We encourage our kids to talk when we show them that we are good listeners. What we hear from our children is often more important than what we say to our children. To be a good listener, be willing to listen to all stories, do not interrupt while they are talking, and do not yell if they tell us something we don’t like. We need to listen to our children the same way we want them to listen to us. Listening to our children shows that we value them, and think what they have to say is important.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and good luck in the upcoming school year!