As we enter August in the south, it means the beginning of the end of summer, and while it may still be very hot in the north, school is not far from the minds of parents north and south alike. The school start line is in view, and the race to get back in the swing of routine is a necessary evil. Don’t wait until the last minute to consider starting back into a routine because you are still in summer mode–it only makes the transition for teachers, students, and you more difficult. Here are 5 things to consider when preparing to go back to school!
Give yourself at least a week! Give yourself time to work out the summer kinks! You don’t want to begin imposing a bedtime of 7:30 the night before school starts when you have allowed your child to stay awake until 9 all summer long. Giving time and explaining what they can expect in the coming days leading up to school will help soften the overwhelming feelings of change.
Screen detox! While a lack of schedule has been nice, it is important to slowly start working toward routine for everyone’s sanity. If you happen to be a parent who allows interactive (tablets, phones, computers, gaming systems) and passive screens (TV) and has done so more than usual because, “hey it’s summer, why not”…then you may consider a screen detox. The idea of just taking devices away when school starts, “cold turkey”, is actually not in anyone’s best interest. How would you like it if I gave you your favorite ice cream cone and then just took it away? I’d say you’d be pretty mad. We can view this same scenario as it applies to screen time. Give your child at least 5 days before returning to school with no screens. Instead of devices, immerse them in nature and other social activities with friends. A study published in the journal of Computers and Human Behavior; found that removing sixth graders from any screens for just five days showed improvement in understanding human emotions and other nonverbal cues. This is a great way to prepare students for the many peer and teacher interactions they will be faced with when returning to school as well as the long spurts of attention they will need for learning.
Reset your clock! When you can sleep in, have nowhere to be, and are traveling, it is hard to keep to a scheduled bedtime routine. While this has been fun, it can prove to be difficult when going back to school. Don’t wait, rather slowly begin adjusting their bedtime (and yours) in small increments at least a week prior to school to get your children back to the time they need to wake up for school. They will be up and ready to go the first day without you needing to drag them out of bed and making their first day back a tardy!
Introduce a schedule! During that back-to-school prep week, you are essentially introducing or reintroducing a schedule by doing all of the above suggestions. Continue to slowly do this each day and explain to your children what they can expect. Many of us struggle with the unknown, and this is no different for children. While it is nice to have free time during the summer, children and adults alike benefit greatly from routine. It shows responsibility, timeliness, care, and gives a sense of something to look forward to. This is the opportune time to get your child back into the waking, dinner, bedtime, and after-school routines. It will help to reduce the nerves your child might have about attending a new classroom. Communication throughout is key to ease these anxieties!
Back to school can be an exciting time for parents and children. There are so many new things to look forward to, new opportunities, growth, and friends. You can avoid the meltdowns by not trying to take away your child’s ice cream cone mid lick and starting early. The transition will then be seamless for parents, children, and teachers whom we all know could use our help.