It’s almost time for school to be back in session, and if you haven’t started the transition process already, it’s time to get going, parents!
For the past couple of months, chances are your child’s routine has been more flexible. Perhaps they can sleep in later, or enjoy a random nap in the middle of the day. Maybe they have spent weeks on vacation away from their normal activities and friends. For kids who attend summer school or camp, the routine may not have seen much change, but the learning process is definitely adjusted in comparison to regular school. It can be hard for children to move from having less structure, more freedom, and lower expectations into an environment that is the exact opposite!
No matter what, your kids are going to have to learn to get back into the routine of school. Even though they may also have some excitement about returning, this transition can be stressful and disruptive for them.
Every family will have their back to school issues. Between getting school supplies together, having the right documents for school, and figuring out transportation there is a lot to stay on top of. But a major part of going back to school that many parents don’t consider is the process of transition your kids from summer fun mode into school schedule mode. Changes in their sleep patterns, eating times and day-to-day demands that come with getting an education can be hard for many kids (and parents) to acclimate to. The struggle can last weeks or even months, so the best thing you can do is work on the process before school actually begins.
We’ve put together a few tips to help your kids transition from summer into back to school to make the process a little easier for everyone involved.
Start by getting the kids to bed earlier
Before the school bells ring again, make sure you re-establish the most important routine of all: your child’s bedtime. To be completely honest, this is sometimes the hardest part of the transition. If your kid has gotten used to having late nights and passing out whenever they want, you can have a difficult time making this happen - this is especially true with younger children. To make the process easier, you can start by shifting the “lights out” time by moving it up 10-15 minutes earlier every night until they start going to bed at their regular school-friendly bedtime. It’s good to start this process about a week in advance just in case you have a few off nights. But I promise, this really does work!
If you are not sure exactly how much sleep your child should be getting, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this handy guideline:
Get family mealtimes back on track
When it comes to dinner and breakfast times, you need to follow a similar process as bedtime to get your kids to eat on school time and not summer time. If you had your kids in summer school or summer camp, this may not be an issue for you - congrats! If not, it is crucial that you retrain your family to eat breakfast and dinner on time. That means having a breakfast time that will allow you to get your kids to school on time. For dinner, make it early in the evening so you have enough time to get the kids ready for bed - bath, brush teeth, story time etc. It is also important that you DON’T SKIP MEALS. Although school mornings tend to be hectic, do not teach your kids to sacrifice breakfast due to the morning rush. Breakfast is still the most important meal in relation to your child’s academic achievement and cognitive development.
Get everything ready the night before
Having everything your kid needs for school ready beforehand will save you a tremendous amount of stress. That includes clothes, school lunches and any other extras they may need for the school day. This transition tip is one that your entire family can benefit from!
It’s safe to say that most kids enjoy picking out their own outfits, no matter what age. Make the transition easy by removing summer clothes from the mix and putting their school appropriate clothes front and center so they have less to choose from. This will eliminate any drama or tantrums when your kids want to wear something that is clearly for summertime - like beach sandals or that strapless sundress. If your kid’s school requires them to wear a uniform - awesome. You’ve got a lot less to worry about!
Start applying the after school rules
Before school is back in session, it is a good idea to sit down with your family and lay out the “after school” rules. This includes establishing homework times, setting up distraction-free areas, and organizing their extracurricular activities. This is also the time to decide how much time you will allow for watching TV, tablets or playing video games. It’s always a good idea to start cutting back on those things before school begins, that way your kids can get used to the new household changes. Having a family calendar is a great way to help your kid stay on top of important dates and assignments. Plus, it teaches them valuable organization skills they can use their entire life!
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