It’s that time of year again! Store aisles full of chunky backpacks, sparkly notebooks, and glitter pens signal the yearly back-to-school ritual we all know and love. For many children, however, the beginning of a new school year can bring up feelings of anxiety and stress. These six suggestions can help your children (no matter what age) transition back to school while minimizing tension and anxiety for your entire family.
During the summer, most kids go to bed later than usual. This can make it hard for them to adjust when school starts up again. A couple of weeks before school begins, establish a “school bedtime” with your children. Then you can slowly work on getting closer to that bedtime in increments of 15 minutes each night until the first day of school. It’s also a good idea to apply this routine to your children’s waking time so the morning of their first day of school isn’t a shock.
Before school starts, help your children get into a routine of completing their homework. First, designate a specific electronic-free place in your home where they will complete their assignments. Then set aside some time each day for your children to engage in an academic activity they enjoy, such as flash cards, writing, or reading. (This might only be a few minutes for young children). Having this routine in place early on will ease the transition to real homework.
Decide now where your children will drop off their backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, and jackets when they walk in the door after school. This will minimize the chaos of running around and looking for their school things every morning. Physically walk your children through dropping off their things the day before school starts so they know exactly what to do when they get home from their first day.
The beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to help your children decide what clothing still fits and what doesn’t. It’s also the perfect time to stock up on essential wardrobe items like shoes, socks, pants, and T-shirts. You don’t need to break the bank, but having a few new items will reduce stress. You won’t need to spend every morning rifling through their closets for something your kids can wear. Thrift stores can be a great place to find a few new wardrobe items, and while you’re shopping, you can also donate clothes that don’t fit anymore.
It’s also a good idea to send your children with a few essential school supplies on their first day. This will help them feel prepared and ready. Items like a backpack, lunchbox, notebook, pencils, and erasers make great first-day-of-school companions. For elementary students, hold off on purchasing anything else until their teacher sends home a precise list of needed items.
Consider your rules for electronic use during the school year and discuss them with your children. Will they be able to watch TV while doing homework? Can they take their phones to their rooms at bedtime? What about listening to music during school?
The goal should be to take out all the guesswork for your children and help them feel prepared to start the school year. In the meantime, enjoy the warm summer weather with your children while you can. After all, those chunky backpacks, sparkly notebooks, and glitter pens are beckoning the beginning of a new year that will surely be here before you know it.
Kyle Zundel is a middle school English and creative writing teacher who is passionate about helping students succeed. After graduating from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, she landed a fantastic teaching job in Saratoga Springs, Utah, where she lives with her husband and two dogs. When she isn't in her classroom, you can find her reading, writing, gardening, or hiking.