Back to School Tips
With summer vacation coming to an end, reality is sinking in for most kids that school is just around the corner and sleeping in will be a thing of the past. Some parents are excited and counting down the days, others are stressed about things that need to get done before the first day, and overall most households can anticipate some challenges with the transition back to school. It can be hard to get back into a regular schedule… for both parents and kids. Below are some tips to help decrease the start of school stress.
Visit the School
Whether your child is returning to the same school or going to a new one it will be helpful to give them a chance to become familiar (or re-familiarize themselves) with their school. This can minimize anxiety and first-day butterflies. Open house is a great opportunity to meet the teacher, see the classroom, and explore other common areas. If your child is comfortable, have them give you a tour of the school.
Meet the Teacher
Meeting the teacher before the first day can also help alleviate some stress related to “who is my teacher?” “will I like my new teacher?” “what do they look like?” If you are unable to connect with the teacher before the first day, see if you can find a picture on the school website so that your child can put a face with a name.
It will also be a good idea for parents to find out the teacher’s preferred method of communication (e.g. email, phone, text…etc.).
Set Up End of Summer Hangouts
Going back to school and into a new classroom can be nerve-racking, especially if your child has not seen some of their classmates in a while. If you are able to find out who is in their class, setting up a hangout just before school starts is a good way to rekindle friendships and build excitement around returning to school. Moreover, it will allow your child to walk into the classroom and see a familiar face, which can help decrease first day jitters.
Get a Check Up
Getting annual checkups (e.g. physical, eye exam, hearing exam) just before school starts is always good idea. It is not uncommon for kids to complain of headaches in the classroom that end up being related to vision difficulties and eye strains, so keeping up-to-date with medical checkups can help reduce somatic complaints during the school year and maximize opportunity for success. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations and it will be helpful for parents to keep copies of medical records as well.
Establish a Homework Area
Establish or set up an area for your child to do homework every day. Homework areas should have minimal distractions (away from the TV), be well lit, and have necessary school supplies at hand to reduce time spent looking for pencils or materials… or excuses to delay starting homework.
Set Up a Calendar
Setting up a large calendar is a good way to keep the family organized. Whether you have multiple children, time-sharing arrangements, or various after school activities the visual calendar is a good way to keep the family on the same page. You can include important appointments such as doctor’s visits, after school activities like tutoring or soccer, or notes on who will be picking up your child after school. Get in the habit of looking at the calendar with your child in the morning and/or the night before so that you both can be on the same page, know what to expect for the day, and remind you to grab any books/equipment/projects…etc. that may be needed.
Re-Establish Screen Time Rules
It’s not uncommon for rules related to TV, tablet use, and playing video games to become more lenient during the summer. As we approach the new school year it will be important to revisit screen time rules for both school nights and weekends.
Be specific about screen time expectations (e.g. How much time is allowed per night? What time do phones have to be put away? Is screen time allowed before homework is finished?) to help reduce time spent arguing.
Transition to School Sleep Schedule
Similar to time spent on technology, sleep schedules are not typically consistent during the summer, which is totally normal. Getting back on track with sleep and night-time routines will ease the transition back to school and ensure that your child is rested enough to be healthy and productive. Be sure to establish a clear bedtime, a specific time to start preparing for bed (e.g. shower, brush teeth, read book…etc.), and time to wake up for school.
Start to transition to the new sleep/wake times at least one week before school starts to give your child enough time to adjust. It’s not easy to switch from going to bed at 12:00am to going to bed at 9:00pm and then waking up at 7:00am.
Set the alarm clock and run through the morning routine (e.g. get dressed, eat breakfast, walk to the bus stop) a few times can help your child get used to the school routine and hopefully make the first day run a little smoother.
If you or your child needs additional support with the the transition back to school, managing academic stress, or handling peer challenges contact Dr. Patty to schedule a free consultation.