Well it’s officially August and that means BACK TO SCHOOL!! Whether your children have been in school since July (lucky you) or you are gearing up to send your little ones back in the next few weeks, here are some of my favorite tips for a successful back to school season!
- Practice, Practice, Practice– Run through the morning routine (complete with getting up early) a week or two before school starts. Practice having breakfast ready, getting dressed, and getting out the door by a set time. You can even do a few practice drives to school or walk to the bus stop. By running through the routine well before the first day you will be able to combat any school jitters, arguments about getting out of bed or wrong turns to a new school.
- Teach necessary skills- Before school starts make sure you are sending your children off prepared to do a few things for themselves. Teach them how to open milk cartons or juice boxes. Show them how to unbutton their uniform pants so they can use the restroom. Show them how to unzip backpacks, open lunch boxes, tie shoes, and point out who they can ask for help when they can’t remember or figure it out on their own. By learning these skills, children walk into school feeling confident and assured that they can make it through the day successfully.
- Positive vibes only– Watch what you say and how you say anything regarding school. We set the tone for how our children will embrace school and the work to come. Share with them your favorite memories from school, tell them what you are excited about for them, encourage them to tell you what they are excited about and speak kindly about their teacher and the staff of the school (even if you feel differently). Your children look to you to ensure that they can trust new people and new experiences. Let them know school is a great experience and that you are right there to walk with them through it.
- Have a (short) Goodbye ritual- Goodbyes are hard, but having a fun ritual can make leaving your little one a bit easier. Start a ritual of a secret hand shake, have a funny saying ( “So long King Kong”, “See you soon, Raccoon”), or give your child a bracelet or necklace for them to wear and kiss it on your way out so they have a special kiss to take with them throughout the day. Make it fun and make it quick. Long goodbyes are harder on everyone, so as much as you think you may be helping, you are just delaying the goodbye and making it worse. Get in, say goodbye, and get out. Short goodbyes make long hellos! *Check out the book The Kissing Hand for another sweet idea
- Expect Regression– The first few days or weeks sailed by smoothly, but all of a sudden little Jimmy is throwing fits, begging not to go back to school, pretending to be sick, and complaining that his teacher is so mean. What in the world is going on here? Once the novelty of a new school year wears off, the reality that school is here to stay hits some children hard. Listen to their woes and acknowledge their feelings, but stay consistent in routines and expectations. Show them the school calendar and ask them star events or days that get them excited. Pull out the calendar any time they push back on going to school and remind them about the fun to come. Make weekends and evenings a safe haven for your children and remind them that summer will be back before they know it. Overall, acknowledge them when they do get to school without a fuss or sit down and do homework without arguing.
- Create and Maintain an After School Routine– An after school routine is just as important as a morning routine. Allowing children to come in and lay on the couch to unwind from the day typically does not serve children or parents well. Give children a protein filled snack, encourage outdoor or big body play (think fort building, balloon catch, or chores that require movement) first, before homework. As tempting as it is to try to get homework out of the way, remember that they have been sitting for a long time and need to move. You can either give them productive movement time or watch them fidget and complain through homework. Set the expectation that at x time homework starts and hold everyone to it. Create separate homework spaces without distractions (television, cell phones, younger siblings, etc.) and give your child a choice on which part of their homework they want to do first, next, etc. You can make homework time quiet time for the whole house and give siblings who do not have homework activities that keep them quiet and occupied (books, coloring, lacing, puzzles, their own “school” work). Once homework is finished, move on with a different activity. Setting the expectations, and doing the same thing every day will ward off homework fights and whining.
- Reward yourself– You did it! You got Junior to school on time, found his classroom and teacher on the first try, only cried 3 times and took at least 97 pictures of the back of his head because he refused to turn and smile for a picture. You said goodbye in a record 31 seconds and made it back to your car before any other parents noticed that you forgot to take off your slippers. You are safely in your car when you notice the remnants of a half- eaten breakfast bar and fall to pieces remembering that angelic face of your little one as he squished it into his seat minutes earlier. Get out of the parking lot and reward yourself! Go get that coffee with extra whip, turn your favorite song on extra loud, or enjoy a workout without a million interruptions. Reward yourself for successfully navigating the first day back to school.
With a little bit of preparation and a lot of grace, back to school can be a fun, memorable experience that leaves you and your child excited to embrace all this year has in store. What tips do you have to make the Back to School transition easier? Comment below! We love hearing your suggestions.