Preparing Your Kids to go Back to School
Summer vacation is a time of more relaxed schedules, irregular bed times and sometimes travel and new surroundings. It’s a lot to expect your child to just jump back into a school routine without preparation. Here are some tips to help your child (and you!) hit the ground running in this new school year:
- Take advantage of orientation opportunities. Many schools have formal orientation events, but if not, call to see if you can visit the school. If your child will be in the same school as last year, you can talk about what they’ll learn in this grade and how this year will differ from the previous year. If you are able to arrange a walk-through at the school, just knowing how to find their classroom is a big comfort to kids.
- Meet the teacher. Many teachers are preparing their rooms for a week or so prior to the start of the school year. Experienced teachers will welcome a brief visit to meet your child and get a head start in helping your child acclimate to their new classroom.
- Get back into a regular bedtime schedule. For at least a week prior to the start of the school year, ease back into your regular routine if possible. Gradually move back toward regular bed times so that your child has enough sleep to start the new school year.
- Speak positively about school and the teacher. Talk about how much fun your child will have in the classroom learning new things and having new experiences. Listen carefully for older siblings or other kids with a “we hate school” message and quickly reinforce that learning new things and making new friends is fun.
- Read books together about starting a new school or a new grade. There are great books in the library that address kids’ fears of a new school or grade. Tie an outing to the library into your “get ready for school” plan and read some of these books together with your child.
- Encourage discussion about the new school or teacher. Reading the books mentioned above may start a conversation, but if not, encourage your child to ask questions so that you know what they’re thinking and can address their concerns. If they raise a question you can’t answer, work together to find the answer or solution.
- Outline what will happen on the first day of school. Start with what time you’ll wake up, what you’ll have for breakfast and what will happen next. If your child takes the bus, visit the bus stop ahead of time and talk about whether you’ll be waiting with them or they’ll be waiting with friends. If you drop your child off at school, do a drive-by and show them where you’ll be dropping them off and where that is in relation to the school entrance.
- Be early for pick-up! For the first week, whether you pick your child up at school or meet them at the bus stop, be early! One of kid’s biggest fears is being left at school after everyone else has gone. This is a good time to make a plan for what they should do if you are late sometime in the future.
- Practice saying “goodbye”. If your child is currently with a babysitter part of the time or has attended preschool, you may have an easier go of it. If not, practice what you’ll say when you drop off your child at school. (I love you, have a good day and I’ll see you at 3!) A photo of the family in the child’s backpack is common, or some sort of good luck charm that reminds him/her of you such as a key chain, a note or other small charm that s/he can hold on to during the day.
- Make a plan for the school year. Kids love and need routine. Set aside a place to do homework and set goals with your child for the school year. GoalUP.com provides the platform to track progress and reward achievement, all online. Make a schedule with your child that might include a healthy snack, perhaps some playtime before or after homework, and set aside time for reading for fun. (There’s time for chores in the GoalUP.com template as well!) The more your child is involved in planning the schedule and choosing their own rewards, the more likely they are to follow it.
A new school or classroom can be a stress point for children, but with effective preparation, it can be a smooth transition and a great experience. Follow these 10 steps to ensure a successful school year for your child!
What other steps have you taken to ensure a smooth back-to-school transition?