Back to school time happens every year. But in the final stretch of summer, the speed with which it approaches always seems to catch all of us -- parents, kids, and teachers -- by surprise.
Some kids might be excited for a fresh start with a new teacher, but for others, the anxiety of going back to school can make it a difficult time, especially when they are transitioning to a new school or heading back into the classroom after a year of remote learning.
Here are five parent and teacher-approved tips for helping your child start the new school year off right:
1. Ease into sleeping routines
If your kids are anything like my kids, they love that summer offers them the chance to stay up later and sleep in. Most days the routine includes breakfast, followed by playing the day away in the backyard or at the pool, then catching fireflies into the night. This can be a hard habit to break when it's time to head back to school.
To make it easier, we try setting bedtime a little earlier each night, starting several weeks before school begins. It allows their bodies to adjust to the new schedule without shocking them with a strict early bedtime the night before school.
Also, it helps to start waking them up in the mornings, instead of letting them sleep in. A slow adjustment will help make that transition to an alarm clock less painful once school starts.
2. Start a bedtime routine
If you don’t already have a bedtime routine, now is a great time to start. Routines help children ease into transitions. Doing the same things, such as having them brush their teeth, read a bedtime story, and then hop into bed every night helps them adjust better. The routine offers a structure that makes bedtime easier, especially when you are getting ready for back to school.
3. Shop for back-to-school supplies
Most kids love back-to-school shopping. Let the kids choose their backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, and even the cool pencils they like. Having them involved in the process and showing enthusiasm for their new school gear will help make the process of going back to school something to anticipate rather than dread.
4. Plan a get-together
A late summer get-together with friends gives them all a chance to catch up and talk about the upcoming year -- the teachers they might have, the clubs they want to join, and the classes they're excited about.
5. Attend meet-the-teacher nights and open houses
Most schools offer students a chance to walk around and see the school and their new classroom before the school year starts. Take your child to help them get acquainted with the school and faculty again. Seeing their classroom might spark something! And don't miss a parent-only night either, if you can help it: those evenings help prepare you for what to expect during the school year. Your kids will notice your support and interest.
EASY BONUS IDEAS FOR NERVOUS KIDS:
- Let your kiddo pick out a first day of school outfit or shirt... something they feel great in. It's amazing how far a little confidence will go.
- Check out the school website. After last year, odds are there is a virtual tour or school video that you and your child can watch to give them an idea of the vibe there. Sometimes it's the unknown that gets the nerves going.
- Talk! Your kids might not be the one that starts the conversation, but they will appreciate chatting it out.
Good luck in the new school year and this new chapter in your child's life! Stay positive and get ready for another fun year of learning and growth for your child.
Nicole Zawidski is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Bethlehem, Pa. She is also an award-winning educator and a mom of two.