Getting back into the swing of things for a new school year can be tough for both kids and parents. Here are 10 ways to prepare for back to school.
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It’s that time again! Another school year is right around the corner, and ready or not, here it comes. August may have only just begun, but you know how it goes – those last few weeks always fly. Before we know it, we’ll be taking first day of school pictures with those cute little chalkboard signs.
The back-to-school transition can be a bumpy one, though, can’t it? It’s hard to let go of the slowed down schedules and relaxed routines of summer, and kids are not always eager (or might be downright reluctant) to get back into the classroom.
The good news is there are things we can do as parents to help ease the transition. Use the tips below to prepare for back to school and make the return as smooth as possible.
10 Ways to Prepare for Back-to-School
Getting back into the swing of things for a new school year can be tough on both kids and parents. And that’s true whether your kids are public schooled, private schooled, homeschooled, or something in between! However you’re choosing to do it this year, here are 10 ways to prepare for back to school:
1. Ease into the new schedule
The more abrupt the transition, the harder it is to adjust. Don’t jump right into the school routine on the first day (and night) and expect everyone to be ready and raring to go. Instead, ease into the new schedule.
Gradually work up to school bedtimes and wake-up times, slowly set up a more structured morning routine, follow a typical school meal/snack schedule, and practice getting things ready for each day the night before. Working up to the school year routine will lessen the shock (and stress!) of the first day.
2. Trial run the first day
If you have younger kids, do a test run of the first day. Have them practice laying out their clothes and getting themselves dressed. Teach them how to pack their bags the night before. Run through a typical school morning to see how it goes.
Related Post: How to Have Stress-Free School Mornings
And pro tip: test out all their packed lunch containers! I did this before my oldest went to kindergarten, and I discovered he couldn’t open some of the containers I had packed.
Doing a trial run of the first day will reduce stressful surprises and show you what you need to work on before the first day.
3. Lists, lists, lists
I’m a list gal, so this is a total sanity-saver for me. Before the first day, make alllll the lists: school supplies for each child, packing lists, morning routines, evening routines, breakfast ideas, lunch ideas, simple dinner ideas, etc.
Everything you need to do on or before the first day or anything you need to think about to make it run smoothly, WRITE IT DOWN. It will free up valuable mental space, relieve stress, and drastically reduce the risk of forgetting something important on the first day.
4. Make a file or doc of other moms’ hacks
The internet is FULL of seriously creative mom geniuses who have a wealth of back-to-school mom hacks. Take advantage of their wisdom! (Google “back to school mom hacks” and you’ll find GOBS of them.)
When you see or hear a good trick, don’t rely on your memory (hello, mom brain!) or keep them scattered all over Facebook, Pinterest, your photos app, and browser bookmarks tab. Pull them all together in a single file or doc of some kind so you can easily find and reference them when you need them.
There are lots of ways and places to do this, but Evernote is what I use to save and organize notes from a variety of sources.
5. Review and practice classroom etiquette
After a summer of loosened rules and free play, a return to the structures of school can be a bit of a shock. After three months away from it, young kids, especially, can forget the manners and protocol that maintain order and positive learning environments in school.
Before the start of school, review and practice classroom etiquette so your kids are ready from the get-go for a successful school year.
6. Plan a special “end of summer” celebration
It’s hard to transition to something new when you don’t feel “finished” with the old. Bring closure to summer break with a special “end of summer” celebration or ritual.
This doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy. It could be something as simple as a “last night of summer” ice cream run, family night, or summer memory session.
Whatever you choose to do, spend time reflecting on your summer as a family and looking forward to the next school year.
7. Plan something special after the start of school
When kids are grieving the end of their summer, it can help to have something to look forward to. Make plans to celebrate a successful first day or week of school with a special afternoon treat on the first day or a fun family activity on the first weekend.
Not only will this be a reward for a successful return to school, it will give your kids something to look forward to, easing some of the reluctance or dread they may be feeling.
8. Acknowledge and address your child’s feelings
Some kids may be excited about going back to school, but many kids are reluctant, nervous, or anxious about the return. This is especially true of those who struggle with the academics or structures of school.
Wherever your kids lie on the spectrum of back-to-school emotions, acknowledge and address their feelings. Validate their struggles, affirm their competence and strength, and reassure them you will always be there for them.
9. Focus on the positives
Kids take a lot of their cues from us, including how they think about and approach school. They hear what we say and are fluent in tone and body language. So, if you want your kids to enter this new school year with a positive attitude, it needs to start with you!
Focus on all the good coming in the next year – what they’re going to learn, how they’re going to grow, upcoming events and activities, the friends they’re going to see, etc. The more you embrace the back-to-school transition, the more positively your kids will feel about it.
10. Create a family calendar
Back-to-school brings more than a return of classroom attendance and homework. It also means fall sports, after-school clubs, and a host of other extracurricular activities. Keep everyone’s schedules straight with a master family calendar.
The transition from summer to fall can be a tough one – for kids and parents alike! Using these 10 ways to prepare for back to school, however, can help everyone adjust more quickly for a smooth and successful school year.
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