It’s almost that time! We thought we’d take a moment to talk about preparing to return to school. Transitions can be tough for kids AND adults.
For some families, it might be ‘sweet relief’ to get into the structure and flow of a school year; for others, it might be a battle.
So let’s see what we can do to make it as smooth as possible.
Know your kids and your family
If you know that getting up early isn’t the easiest in your house, start easing into an earlier bedtime a couple of weeks in advance instead of trying to get every last ounce out of summer and then have a rude awakening (or many rude awakenings) that no one in your house is prepared for.
This may not just be an issue for the kids but for you as a parent as well. The summer routine is usually more relaxed for everyone, not just the kids. You may not have had to wake up as early over the last couple of months since you didn’t have to get the kids to school. So your morning and bedtime schedules may have been affected.
Some kids handle transitions really well and some need more support when things change. Does your child usually have a hard time transitioning into a new school year? Do they get nervous?
If your child or family needs time to transition, maybe it means not participating in camps or going on vacation the last couple of weeks before the school year starts. Instead, make plans to have a buffer, recharge, decompression week before the first day of school.
It’s also important to talk about the changes that are coming and open discussions about what to expect, what they might be anxious about and how they will deal with their feelings if they start to get overwhelmed.
Consider any big changes with this school year
Is this a year where there is a big jump academically? LIke 3rd grade, 6th or 9th?
Is there a school change?
Did one of your child’s close friends move away and won’t be in school with them this year?
All of these are big changes that can have big impacts on your child emotionally.
If there are big changes, it might be helpful to relax expectations. The jump from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school is a big deal and the workload increases at each of those transitions. So kids may need a few less chores when they get home in the evenings so they can spend more time studying or getting extra rest for the next day.
Going to a new school, whether it’s because of a move or due to “graduating” from elementary or middle school, being in a new, unfamiliar building can cause anxiety.
Visiting the school a couple times before the first day can be helpful so it all doesn’t feel foreign. Knowing where their classrooms are, where the office, cafeteria, gym, etc. is, can help your child feel more comfortable when school begins. You could also take some time to walk the route to school or find a buddy that will be in their classroom or grade that they can connect with.
When it comes to school anxiety, The Child Mind Institute suggests, “If your child needs extra support to make a successful transition, let someone at school know — their teacher, an aide, the school psychologist or the school nurse.” (The Child Mind Institute | Back to School Anxiety, Caroline Miller | https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/). This way staff will know the signs to look for and can assist them if needed.
Once school starts things start to get busy and your calendar starts to fill up with fall activities, but it’s important to remember to check in with your child and see how things are going.
It might be helpful to set a reminder in your calendar or phone to check in after a couple of weeks to see how things are going with new teachers or new homework routines/expectations. They may be struggling with something and haven’t shared it with you but if you make a point to check in and ask questions, hopefully they will open up if they have any problems or concerns.
Would it be fun to do something to mark the end of the summer?
Hopefully your child, and your whole family, has enjoyed the summer and has some great memories from it. If that’s true, then it’s kind of sad to say goodbye to that fun time knowing it will be a whole year before you can have another one.
Most kids, and adults, need and want closure for things in their lives, it helps to cope and move forward. When one thing ends abruptly and something new immediately takes its place, it can be hard to accept.
It might be cool to wrap up the summer by creating a ritual where you do something as a family to reflect on the summer, express gratitude for the different experiences each year and, then talk about intentions or what everyone is looking forward to in the new school year. This could be a tradition that your kids can look forward to every year and while it wraps up or marks the end of summer it also builds excitement for the new school year.
This way, you have a clear ending of summer and beginning of the new school year. And you practice bringing gratitude, intentionality and presence.
We have a few other tips that we shared in a past blog on back to school, you can check it out HERE.
When it comes to preparing for a new school year It’s all about acknowledging the changes and having a plan. We know it’s coming every year and even though we know, it’s still a little challenging when the big day arrives. So take some time to assess the needs of your family and any obstacles they may face, and then plan accordingly.
Does your child struggle with going back to school or transitions in general? Contact us, we can help.