The summer is ending and it is time to go back to school. Parents may be looking forward to a vacation from sibling battles and hearing, “I’m bored!” However, some parents are dreading the fight to make the transition into the next school year. Some children love the idea of getting back to school, seeing their friends, and starting the school year. But, there are other children who may find going back to school stressful and dislike the idea of summer coming to an end. No matter your child’s attitude toward starting the school year, there are some things you can do to make the transition easier and, dare I say it, fun.
A couple of weeks before school starts, begin transitioning your child to the back to school schedule. Putting your child to bed earlier and waking them up earlier will help to prepare for the early mornings. Many children will fight the idea of changing their bedtime to an earlier time, using incentives like allowing your child gets to watch his favorite half-hour TV program or reading her favorite book after getting ready for bedtime can help ease the change. Having a bedtime routine will also help with the transition to an earlier bedtime; baths, choosing their clothes for the next day, and back rubs may all be helpful to calm your child before bed.
Realistically, most children do not spend a great deal of time with school related material over the summer. Many free websites have games designed to help children maintain their math and reading knowledge through the summer. (Here are 3 good ones: Education.com, PBS Kids, FunBrain) Setting aside a specific time for your child to play these learning games may be a helpful tool to begin preparing for homework time. Carve out some time, through the last weeks of summer to have them begin playing learning games, reading, or doing a learning related activity. Having a schedule can help with the pressure of the upcoming school year for you and your child.
Have Some Fun
Kids often have a “summer is fun and school is not” attitude. Why not make back to school more fun? Here are a few ideas:
- Advent Calendar – Christmas is not the only time we can use countdowns to create excitement and anticipation. Create a 2-week advent calendar for your kids. Behind each date could be a treat or an activity like going to the dollar store, or a picnic at the park. Be creative!
- Back to School Tradition – Why not make Back to School a new holiday? It could be a big neighborhood back to school barbecue, or a school supply gift exchange, or simply having an end of summer family dinner complete with all of your child's favorite foods.
- School Supply Hunt –Seriously, who doesn’t like searching the yard or house for hidden treasures? Make Back to School more fun by creating a hunt for school supplies and other treats.
Talk to Them
Creating a fun and exciting Back to School plan is not always enough to remove the fear and dread. Talk to your kids; find out why they are so apprehensive about school. Maybe it is a fear of not having friends or not being able to do the work. Perhaps your child had some behavioral issues or bad experiences with his teachers. Talk to your children to try and target specific reasons for Back to School fears. Show empathy, and share a story about when you were nervous or afraid. Connecting with your child may be the most impactful tool to improve the transition Back to School.
If you have ever been on an airplane, you know the flight attendants urge you to put on your mask first in case of emergency. Preparing for Back to School can be a time-consuming, draining endeavor. You won’t be able to best attend to the needs of your kids if you are not attending to your own needs, too. Take some time for yourself. Sit outdoors, read a few pages from a book, or have lunch with a friend. Recharging your batteries will help you to better meet your child’s Back to School needs.
Every home experiences Back to School differently. Whether your child loves returning to school or loathes the idea of being back in the classroom, using some of these tools can help to make the transition much smoother.
Showing our children we understand and we are here to help them through the transition back to school, can be the best way to get the new school year started on the right foot.
Nicole Brown, LLP, LLPC is a PMTO Certified Clinician at Wedgwood Christian Services
Wedgwood offers a variety of parental support. Learn more at www.wedgwood.org/parenting
Wedgwood also offers Psychoeducational Testing, which can provide insight into why your child or teen may be struggling in school. Learn more: www.wedgwood.org/testing
Photo Source: FreePik 1 2 3