Get Ready, Get Set, and Back to School!
It’s time to get ready, get set, and back to school! Many parents and students are getting ready to start a new school year in the upcoming weeks. Many parents are excited, and many kids may be hanging on to the last days of summer. As any parent has likely experienced, getting back into the groove of school can be a challenge. Here are some easy steps you can take to get ready and make the transition back easy-peasy!
Re-Establish Sleep/Wake Schedules
One of the biggest challenges can be getting back in the sleep/wake routine. Many have enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in, so getting back to early morning wake up time is rough! I often encourage families to implement the school week schedule at least 1 week (2 is better!) before starting school for going to bed and waking up. Understandably, this can seem unfair or less than ideal as kids want to enjoy the last week of vacation. However, it really is helpful to get kids and their bodies readjusted to the sleep/wake routine. Families can try to make the best of the early wake up calls, creating incentives and fun activities to do to make the early rising tolerable. Make a big breakfast together, go out to breakfast, watch the sun rise, build a pillow fort in the living room and watch a movie together, etc. Naturally, kids may push back when trying to establish the routine, but think how much better it is to face that challenge without the added pressures of having to do homework at night, getting out of the house by a certain time, etc. When the school year begins, you will be thankful that your kids are back on school sleeping rhythms.
Practice Morning Routines
Does your child struggle in managing their time? Similarly to re-establishing sleep/wake times, your kid can practice daily living skills and the timing of getting things done. Have your child practice getting ready for school and time them. This can help in knowing how to adjust wake up times to allow enough time. Moreover, if you want to help your child speed up their routine, it is a great time to challenge and practice moving faster. Helpful tools can include visual timers, reminders, visual charts, etc. Give them a challenge to reduce their getting ready time and the repetition can help make it a habit.
Help Ease Anxiety
Back to school can be stressful, especially for anxious kids. Big transitions such as starting a a new school can be especially challenging.
- Visit the new school to allow the child to get familiar with the new school. Practice going through their schedule, walking from class to class, note the locations of bathrooms, lockers, where they eat lunch, and where they can go if they need help (front office; counselor, etc.)
- Talk with them about their worries and guide them in problem-solving and practicing handling those situations. For example, if your child worries about making new friends, role play conversation starters and scenarios of making friends. If they worry about bullies, give them key phrases they could say to de-escalate the situation and strategies for moving away from the bully.
- Practice in-the-moment coping skills that they can use during school (deep breathing, positive thoughts, mindfulness, etc.) should they become anxious. It is always most effect to first practice these skills when not in-the-moment.
Reduce Screen Time
Kids love screens! Summer time is a common time for increased screen time fun. Consequently, this can create problems with kids getting back in the habit of doing work and not wanting to give up their screen! Think about how much screen time you want your kids to have during the week. For a couple weeks before school starts, set this boundary and encourage them to engage in other activities.
Shop for School Supplies Together
Shopping together for school supplies is a great way to get kids excited for the school year. Have them pick out supplies in patterns/colors they enjoy. For older children, use this as a learning opportunity about budgeting. Give them a budget , provide a list of what they need to buy, and then let them (with your help) shop for all needed materials within their budget.
Identify or Create a Homework Space
Having a set place in your home for homework completion is so helpful. This creates consistency which promotes efficiency and less conflict when trying to get kids to do homework. With your child, find a space in your home which you can designate as their homework area. Set it up with needed materials and let your child decorate it to make it theirs. When the school year begins, get your child in the habit that this area is where they complete homework.