Believe it or not, it's that time of year again. Summer is quickly coming to a close and families are preparing for students to head back to school this fall. For many students, the transition from a summer full of freedom back to the classroom can be a difficult one. Here are a few things that you can to do make the beginning of the school year a little easier for you and your child.
1. Let Your Child Pick Out School Supplies
Shopping for school supplies and packing them together will give your child a chance to express his/her style and feel a sense of control over the experience. Allowing your child to lead this effort will help them take ownership over the transition and can even boost their excitement level about heading back to school. After all, who doesn't love sporting a new back pack or pair of shoes.
2. Review the Routine
Use the time that you are shopping and packing to review your student's class schedule and daily routine. Make sure to communicate your expectations for bed time, waking up, and talk about when homework will be completed. To many kids, this conversation may seem boring but allowing your child to make some choices about their routine will certainly help their attitude towards it.
As you review the routine, take some mental notes. Are there any events that appear to produce stress for your student? If so, take some time to talk that through. You might say, "You seem kind of stressed about that. Is there anything that I can do to help you prepare? What are some things that you can do when you feel stressed at school?" Having some coping skills in mind will help your student deal with difficult situations more effectively and remind them that you are there to help.
3. Take a Tour
Most schools offer tours during orientation. This is a great way to remind your student (no matter what age) where they need to go, what teachers they will be interacting with, and what it feels like to be back in the building. It's a simple thing that can make a big difference on the first day regarding your student's level of comfort.
4. Adjust the Bedtime Routine Before School Starts
Even as an adult it can be difficult to change the time that we go to bed or wake up. In fact, it can take about three weeks for a new time to feel routine to us. Kids struggle with the same thing. Often parents wait until the night before school starts to change their child's bedtime routine. This doesn't offer the body an appropriate time to adjust properly to a new schedule.
Instead of making an abrupt change in sleeping habits you may find it helpful to ease into it about 2 weeks before school starts. Yes, your teen may argue that it's totally fine to play X-Box until 1 am since it's still summer but rest assured that transitioning early will likely pay off in the long run. Remember that the body and mind of a teenager needs 9-10 hours of sleep (more than the average 8 hours) in order to feel rested and alert.
5. Make a List
What are your student's goals for the year? What concerns them about going back to school? What are they looking forward to? Making a list of these things will help you better understand how your child feels about the transition. It can also serve as a few points for conversation with your child's teacher and/or school counselor.
6. Stay Positive
Change is often difficult. The back-to-school transition produces many tasks that always seem to appear all at once. Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed and become negative about the transition. Instead, focus on the positive. Your attitude toward the beginning of another school year will surely effect your child's attitude as well.