The end of summer and the first day of school can be an abrupt and difficult transition for parents and children alike. Easing into a school schedule a week or more before school begins will make going to school a much more smooth and healthy event.
We have 8 tips to get your child into school-mode so that the first day is a successful one!
1) Start implementing regular bedtime: This guide from the National Sleep Foundation will let you know how much sleep your child needs per night.
A 30 minute sleep “wind-down” (bath, brushing teeth, reading, stories etc.) is important for younger children to get them ready for bed. If you let it linger beyond that time it defeats the purpose!
2) Re-establish regular mealtimes: While it is a wonderful thing to have a more relaxed attitude towards dinnertime in the summer, a child’s normal dinnertime should be on a schedule when school starts. If you have younger children who need more sleep, dinnertime should be set at an earlier hour so they have enough time to digest their food. Eating within two hours before bedtime can create sleep disturbances and potential nightmares. Start with an early breakfast when they wake up on their new school time. Call the school to find out when lunch time is for your child or have lunch around 11:30-noon. And again, have dinner at a reasonable, set hour.
3) Buy school supplies early: School supplies start to go on sale mid-summer. At which point they have incredible sales and a huge variety of options. Waiting too late might leave you with aisles of picked through leftover supplies. Buy early and keep them in a safe place.
4) Create a calendar with up-coming events: Many schools have online calendars you can print out and put in a permanent place in the home. If not, make your own calendar with your child and put everything in it that you can. Start with when the bus comes each morning (or when you drop them off). If you use a calendar on your computer or smart phone, print it out and place it somewhere that the children can check it easily at any time. Make sure to update the printed out calendar on an ongoing basis.
5) Start Limiting Screen Time: The good news about school starting is you will have less time for screen time battles. However, you’ll want to make sure screen time does not interrupt the precious hours they have between playing sports, afterschool activities, coming home, finishing homework and family time. We recommend downloading an app like Squish: Screen times up! to help manage daily time usage and set bedtime locks on their electronic devices.
6) Turn off the TV: Obviously this is a personal choice because television is an American pastime! If it works for your family, turning the television off and keeping it off right before dinner begins (or earlier or even altogether!) is a good practice when getting them ready for the transition to school. You do not want your child stepping off the bus and going straight to the television. Make homework a priority and if time is left let them turn on the television to watch a show. Priorities change from summer to school year for many of us and this is a big one!
7) Select a spot to keep backpacks: Something that will happen every day when school begins is your child will walk through the door with his or her backpack. It is very important to set this rule on the first day so it becomes a habit quickly. Select a specific place for each child to place his or her backpack every day. It could be a corner of a room, a hook in a mudroom or their bedroom. It doesn’t really matter where, just that it is designated and used every day.
8) Designate a clear spot to do homework: If your child’s bedroom is straight from a Pottery Barn catalog with a desk and matching chair then yay for them, it’s obvious that is their homework spot. If space or finances do not permit, then anywhere that is clean, well lit, comfortable and distraction and clutter free can be their homework spot. Maybe it’s the kitchen table or a desk you use for work. You and your child can choose a special spot together. Make sure you have plenty of sharpened pencils and whatever else they need on hand for homework.
We hope you find these tips helpful for you and your child. His or her attitude, health self-confidence and academic performance will benefit and you will see the difference!