As an educator we are not allowed to say the "S" word (school) in my house until August rolls around. Though this usually doesn't happen because I spend most of the summer working, whether it be planning, going to professional development, or taking classes at the university. The truth is, we can't completely stop thinking about and preparing for school. As a parent, I'm sure you look for the best back to school deals on clothing and supplies and maybe even some ideas on Pinterest for healthy lunches or weeknight dinners. Though we all want to forget about the Back To School season we can't. However, this doesn't mean we can't make it an easy transition back for our kiddos.
Here are some pointers to make the Back To School dread, not so dreadful:
1. Be positive! I know it can be difficult because we know the challenge that may be ahead, but talk in a positive manner regarding school. Build up the excitement by talking about seeing old friends, making new friends, showing off their new duds, working on their favorite subject, or whatever your child may like about school. If they are one that always dreads school, find something to get them excited about. Like an after school program they will attend, a fresh start with a new teacher, or extra help they are going to get at or outside of school (maybe a tutor, ahem, like Scholar Factory).
2. Keep a routine (or at least start back on one, a week or more before school starts back)! We know the kiddos have to get up earlier during the school year than they do over summer break. So, keep them on that schedule throughout the summer. Or, if that doesn't work for you, start having them go to bed a few minutes earlier each night until they are back to their regular bedtime. Same goes for wake up time. Have them get up at the same time throughout the summer, or when the countdown starts have them get up a few minutes earlier each day until they are at their normal get up time!
3. Routine doesn't just mean bedtime! What about meals? Are they eating whatever they want, whenever they want? They won't be able to do that at school. So get them back into the routine of eating breakfast, lunch, an after school-time snack and dinner (or whatever your during school year eating routine is).
4. Don't let school be a mystery. If they are a kindergartner, starting a new school, or even just meeting a new teacher and/or classroom, this can cause anxiety. Be sure when you drive by the school you discuss it. When they have a back to school event, orientation, open house, or any other kind of event before school starts, go to it so that you and your scholars can meet the staff and get to know the building. If your school doesn't offer any events before school starts back, be sure to call them to set up a private tour and/or meeting with the teacher and staff.
5. One reason school seems so daunting after summer is because all learning stopped that last day of school. Keep your kiddos engaged by reading everyday, playing educational games, and going on "field trips" to educational places like the zoo, nature center, science center, caves, museums and the like. Also, you can sign your kids up for summer activities, like our Summer Learning Camps. It doesn't have to be an all day every day kind of thing, but stopping all learning will make things that much more difficult when August rolls around.
6. Make sure your little darlings know their phone number, address, bus stop and any other pertinent information they may need to know. They will likely be asked by adults at their school and if they were to (heaven forbid) get on the wrong bus, they will need to be able to articulate who to call and where they need to go. This is important for kiddos of ALL grades!
7. Be PREPARED! Everyone's anxiety will settle down when you feel prepared. Be sure to know who the new teacher is, what their room number is, and have all your supplies purchased before that first day. The school usually sends home a supply list. If you haven't received one and you're ready to beginning shopping, call the school and see if you can stop by to pick one up. Remember, many stores start their back to school sales up to a month before school starts! When the time does come to start shopping, let your kids have as much choice as possible, so they can take ownership and pride in their belongings. You can also take this opportunity to teach your children about budgeting or even about community service. If possible give your kiddo five bucks and let them pick out school supplies to donate to those in need. Whatever process you choose, make a big deal about it, get some froyo, and have fun!
Follow these seven steps to success and that yearly dread won't be so dreadful!