September is just around the corner and — whether this news makes you want to weep or dance — the kids will soon be back in school. Making the transition from sandals to sandwiches can be challenging for children — and parents! We’ve got some ideas to help your family get ready for a new school year.
1. Celebrate Change
Make a special plan with your family to say farewell to summer. A special outing or a gathering of friends or family are memorable ways to celebrate the season and bring it to a close in a positive way.
2. Take Time to Look Back
On the first day of school, kids can expect to be asked some form of the question: “What did you do this summer?” Help them get ready by taking time to look back and recall highlights of the summer. Kids could make a ‘Summer Gifts’ list of what they are thankful for. Enjoy looking at photos you’ve captured. It could even be an opportunity to make a scrapbook of their memories.
3. A Place to Do Homework
Even kindergarteners get homework these days, and older grade-schoolers definitely need a quiet place where they can do their homework. Your homework area can be the kitchen table, counter, or a desk in your child’s room. What matters most is that it is a quiet place your child can count on to do their work each day.
4. School Supplies
Time to dust off the backpack and lunch containers, test the markers, and stock up on all the school supplies you’ll need. Making a list together before you shop can help ensure you have everything, and that you will stick to only the items you need.
5. Learn Something New
No need for summer brain drain! We don’t need to wait for school to begin in order to keep learning. The library is full of wonders to discover, and so are nearby walking trails. Is it time to try a new recipe with your child? How about trying an outdoor science experiment?
6. Bedtime Routine
Ensuring your child gets enough sleep is essential for their success at school. Experts say school-age children need roughly ten hours of sleep. If your current routine needs a shift, try making a gradual transition to the new schedule by backing up bedtimes by 15 minutes each night. Staying off screens at least an hour before bedtime can help children fall asleep and stay asleep. Bedtime is a wonderful opportunity to cuddle up and read together. Whatever you do, keep consistent rituals at bedtime so your child can move easily through the routines towards sleep.
7. Address Anxieties
Naturally, a new school year comes with unknowns. Is your child anxious about the coming year? It helps some children to know who their teacher will be, and whether a good friend will be in their class. Other children need to know that it’s okay to tell their new teacher if something is hard for them. Most schools are open the week before classes begin and staff may be able to answer questions about busing, classes, or any other questions your child may have. If fears persist, encourage your child to draw pictures or journal about their hopes for the coming year.
8. Schedule Your Priorities
Figure out priorities for after-school activities, homework, chores, TV time, and video games before the first day of school. This will allow you to agree on a schedule and avoid confrontation later on.
9. Love Your Lunches
Do your children sigh at the thought of returning to sandwiches? Try brainstorming new ideas for lunches that everyone can look forward to. Research online together if you need to — creative and healthy lunch ideas abound!
10. Daily Reading
They may be learning to read now, but soon they will be reading to learn for a lifetime. Even if your child is old enough to read on their own, reading together every day is an excellent way for you to spend time together. When you share a book, you are building a love of reading in your child that will carry into adolescence and beyond.
11. Picture Routines
Wondering when your child will become more independent with morning and after-school routines? To avoid becoming the ‘routine police,’ try a visual daily routine chart for your child. Better yet, create one with your child! You just might be amazed how well they can learn to manage before-school, after-school, and bedtime routines when they have a chart or list with pictures to guide them.
Our family listed our daily routines, and then crafted our own wall hangings — one for before and one for after school. Or if you’re crafty, you can try this version — you can change the order of your tasks as needed: https://listeninginthelitany.wordpress.com/tag/chore-chart-for-kids/
You can also search the internet for free “printable daily routine charts” to find one that will work for your family. For example: free printable daily routine chart