Hopefully June, July and the first half of August were chock full of fun activities, vacations, swimming and friends for your students. Whether it’s your child’s first day of kindergarten or the “last first day of school” for your senior, a new school year is always a confusing combination of excitement and anxiety. 'What will my teachers be like?' 'Will I have friends to sit with at lunch?' 'Will I make good grades?' At least those were the things I remember wondering about.
Experts from the National Association of School Psychologists have several great tips for transitioning your children back to school. The shift from a summer to school mindset begins in the home, and there are things you can do right now to get your student ready for a new year of learning. I’ve adapted some of those tips, which you can read below:
Re-establish the routine
Summer in your household has perhaps been a little less structured than the school year schedule. For three months, the kids may have had leniency on bed and meal times. Start easing your kids back into the routine ASAP, sending them to bed a little earlier each night. Ensure that your students are eating three meals a day rather than snacking throughout the day, since they won’t get to snack while in class. And if they’re not breakfast lovers, try to get them into the habit of eating the most important meal of the day (and yes, it REALLY is the most important meal of the day).
You might also want to use the week prior to the start of school to challenge your kids to turn off their mobile devices, video games and TVs. Encourage your kids to spend time reading, writing and using critical thinking skills so that the start of school won’t be a complete shock.
Gather lunch boxes and backpacks near the door so that mornings are less stressful.
Remind your students to start picking out their clothes the night before this week so they’ll develop the habit. You might even designate a “school clothes-only” side of the closet; more options might equal extra time when it comes to getting ready in the mornings. Also, talk to your kids about what kinds of foods they’ll want for lunch and offer each child their own shelf in the pantry. That way, they won’t get confused about which food is theirs, and they’ll be able to help you pack their own lunches.
Create a homework box and area
Whenever you’re clearing dinner plates and the kids are pulling out their folders full of homework, you’ll want to make sure they’ve got all the supplies they need in one place. This week, while your kids are still homework-free, have them create their own personal “homework box.” Use an old shoebox or plastic box and let their creative juices flow. Then, stuff it to the brim with colored construction paper, scissors, stickers and whatever their favorite decorations are so that weeknights don't consist of mad dashes around the house looking for the materials needed to complete their homework.
Designate a quiet area of the house, free of any distractions and temptations, for your child to complete his or her homework. It’s probably best that the “homework space” is not in the child’s room so that they can separate their work from play. If you have multiple students, it might be a good idea to assign them various homework spaces throughout the house so they can focus individually. Consider rotating the homework spaces every six weeks or so for a change of scenery.
For more “back-to-school” transition tips, click here.
Article partially adapted from “Back-to-School Transitions: Tips for Parents” via the National Association of School Psychologists