Summer is wrapping up and I don’t know about your kids, but our little girl has not been hiding her feelings about going back to school. Of course, how can we know if it’s caused by negative feelings about school, or if it’s just unhappiness at the thought of all that free time ending? Actually there is a way to find out, isn’t there? We could ask them.
Before I continue with a few tips on helping your child ease back into the school year, I should note that I’m so NOT an expert. I’m a first time parent of a just-turned-7-year-old girl, who is heading into her second year of elementary school. I’d love it if those of you with more experience would weigh in via the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.
7 Tips to Ease a child’s Return to School
- Adjust sleep times – If your children are like ours, sleep times have slipped later and later during the summer. The first day of school is going to be a very unpleasant shock if we don’t start working their little body clocks back to “school time”. Every three days adjust their bedtime 20 minutes earlier until they reach appropriate times for school nights.
- Ask them questions – and then LISTEN. Resist the temptation to mind read when they tell you they don’t want to go back to school. We may totally misunderstand their concerns, and reduce the likelihood they’ll come to you with concerns if you don’t listen first. What reasons have your kids told you for not wanting to go back to school. How did you handle it?
- Focus on the good – Ask them what they enjoyed about school the previous year. Don’t accept, “Nothing!” for an answer. Find those parts they liked and help them get excited about them. Maybe it’s seeing their friends and making new friends. Or maybe it’s art class or math or recess. Get them looking forward to those parts.
- Keep having fun – Assure them that just because school is starting it doesn’t mean you and they will stop doing fun things when not in school. Sure, there’s homework and bed times are earlier, but we don’t want to create the feeling that school is what “took the fun away”. They can coexist with a little planning, especially on weekends.
- Do a dry run – Practice your morning routine several times before the actual day. Lay the clothes out the night before, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and hair, and do it all in an appropriate time frame. Don’t forget to confirm school bus or drop off routines. Sometimes they change. Planning now will reduce stress on the day.
- Meet the teacher – If possible meet the teacher with your child. A positive experience with their new teacher will go a long way to calming first day jitters. Additionally, especially if this is the first time in a new school, visit the school if you can and walk the halls together, and find your child’s classroom.
- Be Enthusiastic – If we act excited it will rub off. It’s especially important that we, the parents, have our acts together on the first day of school. If we are acting rushed and stressed, believe me our kids will know, and it will create or reinforce any negative feelings they may have about the start of school. Deep breaths guys.
I understand that my tips are not rocket science. As I said at the start of this post, I’m no expert in these matters. Like you, I’m just a parent trying to do the best for my child I can. On that point, I’d LOVE some input from those of you that have been through all of this, perhaps many times with many kids…