What’s that you hear? School bells? Already? Yes, the long, free-wheeling and wonderful summer is coming to an end. Kids everywhere are trading in their swimsuits for backpacks as they prepare to tackle their ABCs and 123s. As summer fades away, here are nine ways for moms and dads to help kids (and parents) transition.
1. Take a tour. Many schools will invite students in over the summer to get familiar with the facilities and even meet the teacher. By taking advantage of this, you’ll help take some of the mystery and anxiety out of the first day of school—while also cueing your child in on valuable information, like where the bathroom is.
2. Gradually adjust your schedule. So long, late nights, hello early mornings. Start easing into your school-year routine a couple of weeks before school starts, going to bed earlier, waking up earlier and serve meals around the same time that you’ll be having them when school begins. That way, the change in schedule won’t be so drastic.
3. Be positive. Ask your child, “What makes you nervous about school?” “What makes you excited?” Be open in your communication and try to help lay to rest any fears. Tell your child about all of the fun, friends and new lessons that lie ahead.
4. Rekindle friendships. As school approaches, set up play dates with kids in your child’s class so that they can reconnect. This is a great way to ease worries and solidify friendships before the school bell rings.
5. Out with the old. Work together to give your house a clean sweep. Get rid of old clothes. Organize lunch options and snacks so they’re easy to grab. Establish a clean, well-lit place, free of distractions, where your child will be able to do homework. By getting rid of physical clutter, you also cut down on mental clutter and will be able to better focus.
6. In with the new. Remember your childhood collections of backpacks and lunch boxes? Your kids will, too, one day. Shopping for items for the new school year is an exciting activity. But it can also be expensive. Many states offer tax holidays soon before school begins. This is a great time to go shopping for new clothes and school supplies. Check and see what your state has to offer and start saving.
7. Plan your route. Whether your child is walking, biking or carpooling to school, it’s helpful to walk him or her through the route in advance so that both of you know what to expect. This will make you aware of the safest path and the amount of time it takes to get there, avoiding any unnecessary rushing on the first day.
8. Bid farewell to summer. Let each child select one activity they’d like to do before the summer ends. This helps them play an active role in putting closure on their school-free days and transition back into the more structured part of the year.
9. Take a deep breath. Different kids feel differently about starting school. Some are nervous, some are excited, most are a mix of the two. But as a parent, you don’t want to make the beginning of the school year a bigger deal than it has to be. Read your child’s emotions and go along with their cues. Avoid going on vacations or over scheduling your kids. Be sure to plan for down time before (and after) school starts to give everyone a little breathing room.