4 more weeks and summer would officially be over. No more pool time, water parks, barbecues or movie nights. Just like every year, parents would be seen losing their minds trying to chart carpool schedules and bracing for homework wars before school reopens. The first day, as ritual commands, would see burnt pancakes, forgotten projects, flying socks and missed buses. Feeling the weight of the upcoming school year already?
Well, schools opening up after summer break is a mix of emotions for all involved – from tears to cheers to sighs of relief. Priorities will change, schedules will change and you know the whole deal. But does it really have to be all that stressful? Not anymore.
Here, let me ease this for you. The best way to organize yourself and children ahead of school is to divide tasks into - a) The week before school and b) The week after school -
The Week Before School:
Talk About Going Back to School:
Kids will benefit from reminders that a return-to-school is coming soon. It helps them prepare for the transition. Be sure to also remind them of their spectacular achievements at school so far, about fun times with friends or about the amazing things they have learnt in school.
2. Summoning the Learning Spirit!
Hitting the books in September is a big change from a relatively relaxed summer so make sure you summon the learning spirit weeks in advance! Review old study material and practice emerging academic skills so that children and teenagers understand what to expect in the new school year. For teens, you could start with brain building games too!
3. Back to The Morning Routine:
Getting back to a definite routine can be the hardest part of all of it. You must start being on a routine at least one week before school so that there are no surprises on the first day! For younger kids you could start the day early with packing a backpack, choosing what’s for breakfast, making a to-do chart, etc. while for teens you could encourage them to start their day with a workout, run, swim or even a brisk walk in the outdoors before breakfast. The best way to have a good morning routine though is a consistent night-time routine. If bedtimes have gotten relaxed over the summer, it's time to start enforcing a regular bedtime again to help children prepare mentally and physically for their day.
4. Ground Rules:
After months of little or no rules, be sure to cover tricky topics- Can they watch TV after homework? How late can friends visit on school nights? When's the caffeine cut-off? What about chores? Establishing some guidelines together will make sure you're on the same page once school's in session.
5. Making Re-Connections:
Spending time with a classmate or two via video chat or at a local park will help ease anxieties of going back to school after a break. If the school arranges for it, attend any back-to-school events or schedule a virtual get-to-know-you meeting with your child’s new teacher.
The First Week of School:
Be particular when signing up your child for after-school activities. They will benefit most from a combination of one or two activities that are fun, that reinforce social development and teach skills. Too much structured time can be stressful and may make it harder for them to concentrate on schoolwork initially.
2. Communication is Key:
At the end of the first day, save some time to sit down and hear how it went. Tell your child about what they will be learning during the school year and share enthusiasm about the year ahead.
3. Seek Feedback:
Send a brief note to your child's teacher - teachers love to hear from supportive parents. Let them know you would like feedback on how your child is doing besides helping them with any support they might need.
Ba-Dum-Tsss! That's it - that's all you will need to make it the smoothest back-to-school transition. See you on the other side!