Like the changing of the seasons, back-to-school returns with inevitable regularity every year. Although parents often welcome the return to schedules and routine, there’s no doubt the move from summer to school can be tricky. Here are seven tips to make the transition as smooth as possible for both you and your kids.
1. Dress Rehearsal
Perhaps one of parents’ biggest jobs during back-to-school is preparing younger — or first-time — students for a new experience. Visit the school before the first day and walk through what kids will do, from bus drop-off to getting to the classroom, bathroom, and cafeteria. Students moving from elementary to grade school need time to find their lockers, try lock combinations, and orientate themselves to moving between classes through the day.
Most schools offer open-house hours to meet teachers, which is as important for parents as it is for kids. Help younger students by telling them ahead of time what to expect, such as being assigned a seat, where to hang backpacks, and meeting classmates.
3. Health Checks
Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, which makes back-to-school a great time to get kids’ annual check-ups. Make sure to keep copies of all records.
4. Gear Up
Just like stores running out of staples when a storm is predicted, school supplies can become scarce as the first day approaches. Get your child’s supply list as soon as it’s available and shop early. Getting new gear can make going back to school much more fun.
5. On the Clock
If possible, ease kids back into school a week or two before the first day by implementing regular bedtimes and morning routines. Explain to them that bedtime isn’t a punishment and why their growing bodies and minds need sleep.
6. Plan on It
This is the perfect time to update your family calendar and display it where everyone can see. Involve kids by having them help mark birthdays, holidays, and activities.
7. The Buddy System
Call other parents to reconnect friends who may not have seen each other during the summer break. Knowing they are going to school with a familiar face can help ease many kids’ back-to-school fears. Plus, having a network of parents with children the same age as yours can help you stay in-the-know on things like class trips and school closings.
It’s not uncommon for kids of all ages to feel anxious in the weeks and days before school starts. Invite your children to tell you not only what they are worried about, but also what they are looking forward to. Having walked through the new routine ahead of time will help, as will reminders of all of the fun things a new school year brings.