This article is written by Shari Medini For more on this topic, check out the full Back To School collection
Back to School is always a weird time of year for families. Everyone is on varying levels of dreading going back and looking forward to it - oftentimes, it’s a mix of both! And since this transition is something that we have to do every single year, it’s a good idea to seek out some strategies and ideas to help make things go as smoothly as possible.
Smoothing out the Logistics
Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what your school days as a family will look like. Plan ahead and make sure that the whole family is on the same page. Your kids will enjoy the comfort in knowing what their days will look like. They will want to know who is dropping them off, who is picking them up, and what will happen when they get home.
This is also your chance to optimize your own schedule and look into getting into a better routine. Plan out your own days in a way that will optimize your time. I love the laidback approach that I’m able to take to Summer break, but I am always itching to dive back into more structure and a more organized work schedule once school starts up again!
It can also be really helpful to minimize the extracurriculars in the Fall as everyone adjusts back to school schedules. Early mornings and long days of learning can make for some very tired kids so you don’t want to add in extras until you’re sure that your child is up for it.
Addressing Any Worries
Too often kids worry to themselves in silence without bringing their concerns to their parents. It’s our jobs as parents to check in with them and help them express things that they might be worrying about or even have questions about. There are many unknowns when heading into a new school year, but many of those questions/worries/problems have answers and solutions!
It can also be really helpful to involve your kid in coming up with solutions for their concerns. If they are worried about what their new classmates, you can brainstorm some fun stories and conversation starters that they could use to connect with new friends. If they are worried about their teacher, maybe you could both write an email together introducing your child and asking the teacher for three of her favorite things as a way to make her seem friendly and human.
While many of your child’s concerns are probably small and seem trivial, it does not feel that way to them! It’s important to give appropriate weight to their worries and help them get through things in a positive way.
Highlighting the Positives
As adults, it can be tough to go back to work after a week vacation so just imagine what it’s like for kids after having the whole summer off!! They don’t want to go back to their “jobs,” and it can result in a lot of negative emotions, which is why it’s important to highlight the positives!
School isn’t all bad. Which friends are you excited to see? What art projects do you think you’ll get to do this year? What is something that you really want to learn this year in school?
It’s important to remind our children of all of the benefits of school. It is always amazing to me to see how much children learn throughout the course of a school year, and it can be fun for them to relive that and see how far they’ve come. It is reassuring for them to see that they are making progress - even though the days might seem monotonous.
Working on Sleep Schedules
Long summer days with plenty of sunshine are wonderful and so are the late evening festivities - sparklers, campfires, fireflies, etc! And while, the late summer nights work well for the season, we are often in for a rude awakening as we get closer to the start of the school year. Late nights don’t work as well for kids that have a full day of school ahead of them!
It’s important to start adjusting sleep schedules gradually as you get closer to the beginning of the school year. You can’t expect your child to adapt overnight. You don’t need the schedule to be exactly the same as the school year or even be super rigid about things, but it can be helpful to start easing bedtime a bit earlier and setting alarms for earlier each day until you get to a point where you are close to a realistic schedule for the school year.
You can also start working on a more consistent morning routine. Print out these Morning Routine Checklists for your kids to help encourage their independence from an early age and make your mornings run a bit smoother :)
Summer’s Not Over Yet!
Part way through the summer, we already start to be bombarded with Back to School ads! Store shelves switch from beach towels and sand toys to backpacks and pencils super early, which can be a real downer for kids (and parents).
Despite all of the buzz, it’s important to be realistic about the time that you do have left in the summer. And your kids will appreciate you acknowledging that, sharing it with them, and helping them make the most of it!
What fun activities and adventures can you plan towards the end of the summer break to make you feel like you are really making the most of every day of it? What are a few of those items on your kids’ bucket lists that you want to make sure you squeeze in before school is back in session? And equally important, what would you all find relaxing and restorative so that you can start off the school year in the best way possible?
So while Back to School season often comes with mixed emotions, there are ways to help ease the transition. And if you have other suggestions that have really helped your family, we’d love to hear them!
For more on this topic, checkout the full Back To School collection