It’s that time of year again, the end of summer. The end of summer break means no more late nights, sleeping late in the morning or playing outside till dark. This is the time of year when kids and parents are thinking about school supplies, new classrooms and teachers, making new friends and getting back to the school routine. Whether your child is starting pre-school or going to high school, it can be an anxious time for both the kids and parents. However, if you prepare your child for school you can sooth their nerves and have a smooth transition into the school year. Here are some great tips to get the school year off to a good start.
- After a long summer of going to bed late and sleeping late, it will be hard for the kids to go back to their old school schedule. The best way to get your kids back into their old routines is to start off slowly. In August you can start the process. Each week have your kids go to bed a little earlier until they get back to their normal school routine. Each week my daughter goes to bed 30 minutes earlier by the last week of August she will be back to her school schedule.
- Make school fun – have the kids go shopping with you. Let the kids be involved with their school shopping including school supplies, back packs/lunch bags and school clothes. The younger kids have fun picking out their pencil bags and lunch bags. The more your kids are involved the happier they will be. This will also make the parents’ lives easier; you won’t have to go return things they don’t like.
- School visits – most schools have special days before the school years starts that are for visiting. Take this time to go to your child’s new school or new classroom. Walk around so your child knows where her/his locker is, the bathrooms, etc. Most of the teachers are usually there on these days so you can meet your child’s new teacher(s) as well. This will help your child to feel more comfortable in their new environment and it also makes us parents feel more comfortable as well.
- Always talk positive about school. Kids are more “aware” then we think. They watch and hear everything you say. So, if you talk negative about school or teachers, you can change their perspective on school. Be positive.
- Have your child prepare for school the night before. This helps with the morning confusion. Have your child set out their clothes/shoes the night before, make their lunches or set out the lunch money. Both you and your child will feel more prepared in the morning.
- If your child has any special needs (physically or cognitively) talk to the school and teacher(s) before the New Year starts. Let the school know what your child needs to have a good learning experience.
- Ask your child if they have any questions about school. Ask before school starts and the first few weeks of school. Be an Empathic Listener – imagine how your child is feeling. Always put yourself in their shoes. What might seem like a small issue to you could be a big issue to them.
- Active Listening – ask how your child’s day is each and every day and then really listen when they speak. Ask what they did in school. Stop any other activities and have eye contact with your child. Ask questions if you’re not sure about what they are saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t think about other topics while they are talking. Think before answering. When you’re an active listener, you show your child that you are really listening and that you care about what they are saying.
- Set up a school calendar – I set mine up on the refrigerator so everyone can see it. This schedule should include the lunch menu, after or before school activities, who is driving to each activity, etc. This will take away from the confusion.
- Basic needs – make sure your whole family has their basic needs met. Is everyone eating a healthy breakfast, taking their vitamins, drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep and exercise? Everything will be better when your basic needs are met.
- Set up some “Free time” in the morning. The just in case, “extra” time. I wake my daughter up 10-15 minutes earlier and get her ready for school. At the end we usually have 10 minutes or so free time which is nice or if she gets pre-occupied, the extra 10-15 minutes is used up but either way we are ready on time ( most of the time)
- Take care of you first. I wake up at 7am and my daughter at 7:30. That half hour gives me the time I need to wake up and take a shower so I’m refreshed and ready to go. This takes away from the crankiness of the morning.
- Use positive reinforcement and a behavior chart to reward the good behavior. Set a positive reinforcement board up on your refrigerator where everyone can see it. Put the behavior that you want to change on the board and every time your kids do it right, they get a sticker or a check to say it’s done. After a specific amount of time of doing the right thing, they get a reward. The key factors are: Every day they put the sticker up for the good behavior, you give positive reinforcement as in praise. When they have done the good behavior for a specific amount time, the reward has to be specific to the child’s wants/needs. For my daughter, after a month of making her bed and putting her clothes away, she got an in ice cream sundae. It’s what she wanted, what she picked. Another rule: you can only work on one behavior at a time.
- For younger kids they feel more comfortable at school if they can take one of their small comforts from home. It could be a picture of their mom or dad, a very small stuffed animal, etc. Having something from home brings them comfort. They don’t need to carry it, just put the little memento in their backpack.
- Keep your kid’s school ready by keeping up with math and reading over the summer. The libraries have great reading programs with tips on what books to reach for all ages and positive reinforcement. You can buy a practice math book at your local book store and have your kids practice during the summer. It’s a great way to keep their cognitive skills strong and makes for an easier transition into their next grade.
Guest Blog Written By Diane Lang, Positive Living Expert
Therapist, author, and positive psychology educator Diane Lang. Ms. Lang is the author of “Baby Steps: the Path from Motherhood to Career” and “Creating Balance & Finding Happiness.” She has been featured in many publications and shows, including the Daily Record, Family Beautiful Magazine, Health & Beauty NJ, Family and Working Mother Magazine, Good Morning Connecticut, and Fox & Friends. She has counseled patients with different forms of mental illness, physical and emotional abuse, and relationship issues, and is a much-sought-after expert for positive parenting.
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