Though some parents may not agree, going back to school after a long summer break can be a real drag, especially for children. For some kids, it is more than not being able to spend countless hours having fun or sleeping in until noon. Many children struggle with academic and or social-emotional skills and school can be a real source of stress. Finding ways to plan and prepare are essential for supporting a successful transition back to school.
Despite the push back and tears you may receive, start to cut back on your child’s screen-time earlier than the first week of school. Explain to your children that their brain’s need a healthy break to help them focus at school. With less screen-time, they will be able to move more and have more energy. Don’t forget that their little eyes are always watching, so set a good example.
Establish a solid routine
Though we may bask in the lazy days of a carefree summer, children thrive with structure and routine. To support a successful transition back to school, devise a solid routine for before and after school. A predictable routine will help your children know exactly what to do even if you are busy and are not able to guide them. For example, after returning from school your kids will have a snack and then begin their homework after 15 minutes of arriving home. To help ensure your children will remember to follow the routine, consider posting the schedule where the whole family can see.
It is never too early to get in contact with your child’s school. Though many kids do not find out who their teacher is until the first day back to school, parents can still contact the school to set up a positive home-school communication. According to Michael Laszlo (Middle School Teacher), “a simple email or phone call to introduce yourself and your child’s needs can go a long way in supporting their academics and social-emotional skills.”
Offer encouraging statements
Find time in your child’s day to offer encouraging statements that reflect a conscious effort to transition into the school year. For example, “This new school year may feel more difficult, but remember I am always here to help you.” Our statements can also support change in our child’s behaviours such as, “We’re going to watch thirty minutes of TV instead of an hour, in order to prepare for the school year when you may not have as much time to watch.”
Checklists, checklists and more checklists
Yes, kids can seem a little disorganized at times! From losing a sock or forgetting to brush their teeth, it is important to remember that organization is a skill learned over time. If your child is prone to losing his/her belongings, then come up with a checklist for them use. Checklists are a great way to help kids be more organized and to stay focused on tasks, such as that dreaded homework. Another bonus to using checklists is that they can be brought to school. Laminating a checklist is a plus because it won’t get ruined AND your child can use a dry-erase marker to check off the items on the list.
Prepare them for failure
No one succeeds all the time! At some point, which could be on the first day of school, your child may experience some type of failure. Discuss failure and how it is the first step to success. Explain to your children that it can enable you to learn and to constantly improve what you do.
We know that first impressions can go a long way. This is even true in a school setting. Human nature is to assume a feeling about people based on our very first interaction with them. Explain the importance of your child being on their very best behaviour, in order to make an impression with their teacher, peers, and other staff in the school.
Supporting a successful transition back to school can be a positive experience. Spend a night with your kids looking at all the fun pictures you captured this summer. Reflect on some of the summer highlights, things you didn’t get a chance to do but perhaps can still do during the next school holiday.
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