5 Tips for a Smooth Start to the New School Year
Last week I gave you a sneak peek into the way we prepare for the start of a new school year. I mentioned in that post that one of the things that we prepare for are the big schedule changes that always happen when you start a new school year. Bedtimes change during weekdays, morning routines get busier and earlier, and extracurricular activities start up again. Transitioning children from the fun and carefree summer schedule to a more rigid school time schedule can be difficult, but there are ways that you can make that transition more smooth.
1. Make a schedule. Just simply writing down the new school schedule and going over it with your child can be key. When we get ready for a new school year, I write out our new daily and weekly schedules for everyone on the family to go over and be aware of. I include morning wake-up times, dance class days and times, TaeKwonDo class days and times, bedtimes, after school snack time, dinner time, and more. Since we are a homeschooling family, I also include school start time, and a lesson/subject schedule for our day. If you don’t homeschool, consider including bus times or what time you need to leave for school, what time they will return home, and if you have access to it, a schedule for their school day (their classes, lunch time, etc.). Having the schedule written out in front of them and a chance to go over it with you, asking any questions they may have, is a great tool for even the younger children. Children function better when they are prepared and know what to expect.
2. Play “school.” If you have younger elementary aged children, or children going to school or preschool for the first time, playing “school” can be a great way to get them in the school frame of mind. After a summer of days spent playing and running, it’s hard for younger ones to get back in the mind-frame where they are expected to sit still and listen, retain information, and speak with an inside voice. A few weeks before school starts, it might help to take a few hours a week and have a set aside time where you work on colors, shapes, reading, or whatever your child may need to review for the new school year. Spend time quietly sitting at a table or desk working on worksheets or coloring, emphasizing the importance of “doing school work” quietly by themselves. Luke and I have been doing this quite a bit lately. I have been teaching him to do things like color a picture, but sit quietly at his spot until I return to his desk and go over the picture, not running to me and telling me when he is done. Providing a reminder of important classroom skills and rules prior to the start of school will really help your child be more prepared for a classroom atmosphere.
3. Start reeling those bedtimes in. During the summer my kiddos consistently stay up later than during the school year. They don’t stay up till the wee hours of the morning or anything, but they are consistently in bed sometimes as much as an hour (sometimes more) past their usual bedtimes. Summer sleepovers, warm lazy days, and hours spent playing outdoors are just a few of the culprits, but as the school year approaches, it’s time to reel those bedtimes back in. Children need goo quality sleep to help them concentrate on their school work and retain the lessons they are being taught. Lack of sleep also affects their behavior, as we all know. A few weeks before the start of school, decide on a school night bedtime and work your way towards that goal. It doesn’t usually work to reel that bedtime in all the way all at once. Reeling it back in slowly is important, and makes the transition smoother and easier on everyone. Start small, moving their summer bedtime up 15 minutes at a time over the course of a couple weeks till you’ve reached your school night bedtime goal.
4. Talk to your kids. Many children have fears or concerns about starting a new school year. Whether it’s a new teacher, new classmates, which bus to ride home, or something as simple as what to wear on the first day of school, kids have a multitude of concerns about starting school. Taking a few moments to talk through any worries or questions they may have will help ease their anxieties and help them be more confident when they walk out the door on the first day of school. Caitlyn has been asking lots of questions over the last few weeks about which subjects she’s taking this year, and how they will be different from last year. These talks aren’t only helping her be more prepared, but also getting her excited about starting a new learning journey!
5. Stay calm. If you aren’t organized and prepared for the start of school, your kiddos won’t be either. Just remember that kids pick up on things that we don’t even realize. If you’re stressed about your child’s new teacher or the fact that they are riding the bus for the first time this year, they will be too. They will glean their confidence and excitement from you, so make sure you’re putting out plenty of good vibes!
tags: back to school