It feels like summer just started. When school was ending, we were struggling to find ways to fill up two months of free time, now, we are planning for back to school already! It's overwhelming to get back into 'routine' and 'reality' after experiencing lazy, sunny, sleep-in days. Travelling has been a big part of summer for many of us, whether it was far or local - it feels like this summer was the first in a while that we were all able to escape and enjoy.
With school around the corner, it is time to get organized and help our kids transition back to a daily routine - and concerns around our children's physical health and safety is at the forefront of everything. So, if we are worried or overwhelmed as adults, we can't imagine the emotional toll it can take on our kids.
Each year going back to school is different - whether your kid is going to the same school, or just moving up from grade 2 to 3 - or if your child is changing schools - or if your baby is moving on to junior high or high school. We found some good tips to consider to help as as we approach the 2023-2024 school season.
The overall sentiment is to keep the lines of communication open. Have conversations. Ask the tough and not so tough questions. Share ideas of how to make it a successful school year. Here are some tips to get you thinking:
Address nervous feelings
It will be normal for you to feel anxious. I know I do. Also, don't dismiss your child's feelings. We all know that kids are resilient, and they are often stronger than we give them credit for – however, if they express anxiousness or hesitancy – create a safe space for them to elaborate on these feelings. And even though you also might be feeling stressed, do your best to set a positive time about the year ahead. Reassure them that you are there anytime they need to talk and together you will work out whatever could be worrying them.
For young kids going to school for the first time or going to a different school – develop a special phrase/words of encouragement. Using a beloved ritual will reinforce that bond and reassure them that they are safe and loved. For instance, with my girls – I always give them a big hug and tell them to be "good, brave and kind". With my older daughter I often yell out loud that I love her and for her to have a great day as she leaves the house as loud as I can. We laugh about it, because it embarrasses her, but I know she secretly loves it. I often find her walking slowly and waiting for me to do it if I don't yell for all the neighbours to hear right away 😊
Being ready and prepared instills that extra bit of confidence
All kids, no matter the grade, or whether it was public school or private school etc – don't thrive well through inconsistencies - so we found some tips around school readiness over the summer:
Play: allow your child to play (indoor and outdoor). You may not realize it, but playing and using their imagination allows them to practice literacy, problem solving, develop emotional skills, creativity and collaboration. In addition, if you are lucky enough to find out who is in your child's class - perhaps you can arrange for playdates for them and a couple future classmates. It will help them get excited and less nervous about the first day of school.
Encourage independence: use this summer to encourage your children to try new things as well as learn how to do different things for themselves. This can include tying their own shoes to completing more significant chores around the house. Projects such as puzzles or building something in the backyard.
Reading: encourage your child(ren) to read over the summer. And take the time to discuss what they have read (you may want to read the same book). Then discuss it. You can talk about the characters' behavior to how the book made them feel. What they liked about it, what they would have done differently. Ask them open ended questions about what they think will happen next? Or if they were the character, what they would do in that same circumstance.
Math: the word "math in the summer" send jolts of dread through my kids, however, math is a part of our daily lives. Try to weave in not only literacy, but math into day to day activities. Cooking with measurements together. Building a project that requires specific instructions. Going for a walk with younger children and having them count or write down what they see.
Designated work space: get your child involved in creating a workspace for themselves. Whether it is a small desk and workspace in their bedroom, or an adjoining desk in your office. You can encourage them to personalize the area, help them organize their supplies, provide noise cancelling headphones to use to ensure quiet and focus. This will help them set a homework routine and have access to a place that is 'theirs' and encourage focus and reduce distractions.
Shop: we adults call it retail therapy and there is some truth to that. Consider taking your kids out to get some new school supplies and a couple outfits. Taking them shopping for back-to-school supplies do promote that excitement of the new adventures and opportunities ahead in the new school year.
Routines and schedules will save you
Establishing a routine and developing a schedule together will help you and your child(ren) get prepared for the school year ahead. Have a conversation with your family to come up with what might work, and what hasn't worked. Then together, establish clear routines that will help make day to day decision making seamless. For instance, morning checklists such as: make your bed, brush our teeth, get dressed, pack your school bag, breakfast etc. For other commitments, you can outline daily routines that might include after school activities and homework etc.
Before the first day of school, make sure you have put this routine into practice. Wake up early, go to bed on time, pack lunches, set out clothes for the next day.
As mentioned above – EARLY TO BED. We all get carried away with our summer hours. Watching TV and movies late at night. Eating later. Going out with friends and visiting family until the wee hours of the morning. However, everyone (including parents) have to get back into routine. Therefore, spend a few days before the start of school to get your sleep schedules back on track. Early to bed, early to rise.
Communicate with your Child's Teacher
In our opinion, teachers are heroes, however, speaking with some teacher friends, they encourage the lines of communication and collaboration between them and the parents. It is important for parents and teachers to work together. So don't hesitate to establish a communication and rapport with your child's teachers. Find out how they prefer to be reached and keep in touch as you have questions. Be collaborative with the teachers. Be open-minded and together any problems that arise can be mitigated early. Support should also go both ways. Teachers supporting the student and their families, and the families supporting the teachers and the school. Express gratitude and encourage your child to speak about any learnings or opportunities they would like to address. Most importantly – your child(ren)'s best interest is a priority!
And remember, helping your children navigate different phases of schooling will always require making time to talk about school, getting involved as much as you can with the school community, and most importantly, making sure that family home is a safe place where the children feel safe, listened to, and respected.
Content sourced from Bright Horizons
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