Can you believe it's almost that time of the year again? That time where your kids are under someone else's supervision for 8 hours of the day? Well, your kids definitely can't believe it, that's for sure. The afternoons at the pool, the late summer nights, and the freedom of having minimal responsibilities have come to an end for your kiddos, and the time has finally come to face reality. Though many kids dread back-to-school time, there are also many who really look forward to it! Some are really excited to see friends that were gone over the summer, others are excited to meet their new teachers and learn, and others are excited for the clubs, teams, and other extracurricular activities they get to participate in. Whatever emotions your kids are experiencing at the close of this summer, you are most certainly starting to feel the ensuing relief that is to come once school starts.
Before you get too excited though, there's still plenty of work for you to do and preparations to make in order to successfully facilitate the transition between summer and school time. Here are a few tips to make that successful transition happen!
The first order of business is to get all your shopping done. There's nothing more stressful than that last minute scramble to the store the night before the first day of school. Many schools will send out supply lists in advance. It's also not a bad idea to wait until after the first day to see what the teachers really want your kids to have, sometimes they'll switch up on you at the last minute. The last thing you want to do is buy things your kids won't need! You might also benefit from some good deals if you get them a day or so after the first day of school. One thing you'll avoid by shopping well in advance, however, are the crowds of other parents who waited until the last moment to get school supplies! Don't let your child be that kid in class who is always asking their classmates to "borrow" a pencil; stock them up on plenty of writing utensils.
A pencil bag is an easy way to keep tabs on pencils, pens, markers etc. pencils can disappear easier than you can even imagine! Also make sure your child has quality notebooks, binders, and folders. You may be tempted to cheap out on these supplies, but trust me, with the way kids put those things away in their backpack, the cheap, crappy ones won't last longer than a few months and you'll end up having to replace them anyway. If you are getting binders, consider buying a sturdy 2" ring binder, unless otherwise specified by your child's teacher. The smaller ringed binders fill up much quicker and typically have more trouble with the rings than the larger binders. Quality backpacks are another school item to invest in. Like the notebooks mentioned previously, cheap backpacks don't tend to last very long, especially with young, rambunctious children. If you buy from a trusted, quality brand however, you are more likely to not have to buy your child a new backpack for the rest of their childhood. The backpack my mom got me when I was in 5th grade lasted me through college and was great for campouts, traveling, and other miscellaneous tasks.
Perhaps the most difficult step of all: get everyone to bed on time. A more flexible summer sleeping schedule is a ton of fun for the kids, but not ideal for the school year. Try implementing the fall sleep schedule a week or two before the first day of school to ease into the school year routine before even starts. Your kids may not like it and may even resist, but you're doing this for their own good! Take advantage of the energy expending activities of summer to get them tired out for bedtime. Also limit electronics and screen time as bedtime approaches, and instead have them read a book to wind down their minds. This will make bedtime a whole lot easier. Sleep and good nutrition are vital for your children's success in school.
Studies have shown that nutrition and brain development are linked, especially in the childhood years. Researchers from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education have been working to find out why that is. Sibylle Kranz, an associate professor of kinesiology and a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Curry School, said, "There is pretty solid evidence that children who are hungry are not able to focus, so they have a low attention span, behavioral issues, and discipline issues in the school. Having children who are well-fed and not hungry makes a difference in their individual performance, and also how much they are contributing to or disrupting the classroom situation." Making sure your children have a well-balanced breakfast and lunch is an important part of setting them up for success. For families with lower incomes that struggle to provide meals for their children, many schools have free lunch and free breakfast programs. Take advantage of those, if applicable.
Lastly, establish a distraction-free time and space for homework. Create a quiet environment where the TV is off and where conditions are conducive to focused school work. Try and avoid the couch or bed and instead encourage working at a table or desk. Every child is different, however, and might actually focus better on the bed or couch. Try different settings around your home to find the pace that provides the best environment for your child and their learning style. Set rules about what can and can't be done before homework is finished. For example, no video games before your homework is finished. More importantly, help them see for themselves why those rules are in place and that their actions have consequences. Otherwise, they might just think of these things as dumb rules. School is a great way for them to learn about life responsibilities and how you can't always just get to do what you want when you want. Help them get excited about doing well in school and show them how to do that! Inspire them to love learning! Planners are always a great tool for kids to learn how to manage time well.
Well, there you have it, some of my tips for a successful back to school transition. Find what works for you! Sometimes, we learn best by trial and error: no shame in that! Though a relief, you'll find that back to school time will make you realize how much you miss your kids. At least you can rest assured knowing that you did everything you could to set them up to succeed in school. Encouragement and involvement are essential on your part as a parent. Regularly check in with your children and see how things are going with them in school. Talk to their teachers and ask what you can do to help. Their teachers are just as invested in their success and well-being as you are. Cooperating will ensure that your children are on the best path possible.