Recently in a session a kid told me, “On the first day of school I’m hiding under my bed.” The lazy days of summer are slowly coming to an end. Summer has been “chock-a-block” full of fun things like vacations, swimming, sleeping in, hanging out, and NOT having to worry about school. With school right around the corner we wanted to give you some tips for how to make this transition smooth.
- Start talking to your kids about it. Communication is crucial as a lot of kids have underlying fears and anxieties about the new school year that can easily be addressed when we take the time to ask about what these are. Kids are also often excited about certain aspects of school. Get to know what your child is most excited about and even what they most fear. Some questions that may be helpful:
- What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge this school year?
- Who are you most excited to see on the first day of school?
- What are the things that make you nervous about going into ____ grade?
- Go to the meet the teacher night. If you have young kiddos, then you likely know when the meet the teacher night is. If your kids are older make sure you find out when you can meet the teacher (s). Sometimes anxieties exist around who the teacher(s) will be, the teaching style that will be employed, or if your child is going to a new school, navigating the campus. Being able to take your child to meet the teacher will help ease these anxieties and make the transition smoother. On meet the teacher night:
- Ask your child what they would most like to know about their new teachers.
- If your child is going to a new school, get a schedule and walk to each room to learn the layout of the school
- Ask your child what they wish their teacher(s) knew about them.
- Know what you want to know and ask their teacher(s) also.
- Start transitioning back into a routine. A lot of time in summer we get laxer about bedtimes, wake up times, and overall structure. Start adjusting your child’s schedule back to what it is going to be like when school starts.
- In the morning time, have them do their morning routine. This means they have to get out of their pajamas and get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, etc.
- Learn about what time they will be eating lunch and try to have lunch around that time. Food can be a major factor in the overall mood of a child. Getting them used to knowing when they can expect to eat can help them transition.
- In the evening time, go back to limiting technology as if school were back in session. Start the evening time routine after dinner that mimics what you will expect once school starts. If you have adjusted bed times, then start adjusting them back 15 minutes at a time.
- Validate their frustrations. As you are hearing them gripe about transitioning back into school, do that… HEAR them. By this, I mean listen, reflect, and acknowledge how they are feeling. It’s the same for adults when we come back from a vacation and are thinking about going back to work. The last thing we want to hear is “well, it’s your work so get over it.” Therefore, why would we do this to our kids. Instead remove the buts, the you need tos, and the because you have to; instead validate their frustrations. You can say things like:
- I know summer has been a relaxing time and thinking about having to go back to school stinks.
- I hear that you don’t want to go back to school, I have days I don’t want to go to work.
- I have had so much fun with you this summer, going back to school is going to be difficult.
- Finally, get them to envision their first day back to school with you. Have them tell you what they think they will do that day, who they will see, when they will get to do certain activities, where they think they will spend the most time, and even why they think going to school is a thing. Getting them to describe this allows them to visualize and walk through their day. With this, you as their parent, can help support them because you will better know what they are expecting. Try this:
- Tell me what you think the first day of school is going to be like
- Who will you get to see that you haven’t see in a long time?
- What do you think you will do that first day of school?
- When do you think you will get to eat lunch, go to recess, talk to friends, etc.?
- Where do you think you are going to sit in your class(es)?
- What will the end of the school day be like?
- Then you can keep saying what else, or tell me more……
Overall, back to school can be a frenzy filled time full of big emotions. Take some deep breaths and remember YOU GOT THIS!!!
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