Easing Back To School Jitters
Today, Sheri shares tips for easing back to school transition jitters:
“Remember back to the night before your first day at a new job. You couldn’t sleep because your mind was racing and your stomach was doing flips with all of the excitement, nervousness, and thoughts of what the new adventure would bring. These feelings are no different than what your child is feeling before school starts, and even throughout the first full month of a new school year. It is normal and should not be cause for worry. Here are some things you can do to help make the transition to a new school year a smooth one for everyone:
Keeping a school year schedule is essential for everyone’s sanity. During the first month of school, keep extracurricular activities to a minimum while your child gets adjusted to a new grade, new teacher, new expectations, and new friends. Parents often over schedule their children at the beginning of the school year in an effort to socialize them more or due to pressures of classes enrolling and possibly filling up. Give it four weeks of getting used to the school routine and pre- and post-school schedule before you add activities in. Your child will adjust to school faster and will be less stressed. Instead, try to arrange play dates at the park with new faces in your child’s class or reconnect with those who are no longer in class with your child.
Routines should be created for those times of the day that can make or break a good day. These times are before school, after school, homework, and bedtime. It is so important to have an established routine for each of these key areas. Creating a routine will provide consistency and can lessen those difficult and challenging times of the day when everyone is tired.
Before school. Before school routines should include getting dressed and ready, eating breakfast, and checking that backpacks have all that they need for the day. Teaching younger children the importance of these simple routines will make mornings easier and help you get to school on time. Using a checklist system can really improve your child’s ownership of getting these things done independently. Posting the checklist near the door you exit makes it simple to be sure your child is prepared for their day. Start of the day consistency can set up your child for successful school days, since they will feel less frazzled or rushed walking into school. For those with kids who are not morning people, pack the backpack together the night before as part of the bedtime routine. Also lay out clothes for the following day ahead of time.
After school. After school routines may vary but should include time to discuss what your child did during the school day. With my son we play a game called high and low. This game involves my son giving me one highlight of his day and one low. It is quick and easy and fills me in on what my son is enjoying or finding frustrating at school. You will never get every detail of their day so if you can find our what sticks out for them it helps open the discussion. Establish a family calendar that shows the afternoon upcoming events weekly and previews the week ahead with your child each Sunday evening.
Homework. Homework routines are essential for all students from grades K through high school. It provides the expectation that homework is important (whether you believe it fully or not, homework is going to be a part of daily life for years to come). I often suggest that parents give their children a 30-60 minute break after school before homework begins. This allows the child to unwind and burn off some energy, making their mind work better for the homework to come. Homework is a loaded topic of great debate among teachers and parents and deserves a much deeper discussion. I will be covering homework myths and misconceptions in depth in the near future. Stay tuned.
Bedtime. Sticking to a routine at the day’s end also helps reduce the likelihood of battles since your child knows what to expect. Have your child help you clean up the toys, pack the backpack, and lay out clothes for the next morning then get dressed and cleaned up for bedtime. Experts recommend that kids need 10-12 hours (preschool age) or 9-10 hours (school age) so make sure that children are in bed at a reasonable time. Enjoy the last moments of the day with your child with a story or two.
It truly takes between 4-6 weeks for students to feel set into the new routines of the new school year. Making the transition easier with a bit of consistency and a lot of organization will benefit your child throughout the rest of the school year. Be patient, be consistent, and allow your child to be a part of the creation of the routines and schedule intricacies. They will take more ownership being a part of the process. A few months from now your week will seem impossibly smooth and your child will be happier and more productive in school as a result.”
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