The first day of school has snuck up on us again! Most local school districts will start just after Labor Day, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to start getting ready. Take advantage of these last weeks of summer to start settling into a new routine before life gets hectic.
Start talking about it. New teacher, new classmates, new schedules can all create some anxieties with kids. Start talking about school a few weeks before the first day. Talk about practical things like what the new schedule will be like, but also make sure to address their feelings and concerns about the upcoming year.
Ease back into the scheduled days. When you and your kids are used to lazy mornings and staying up late, shifting to the early morning school bus rush can be incredibly difficult. To ease the transition, start 7-10 days before school starts, and shift bedtimes and wake-up times gradually. Every day, start their bedtime routine 10-15 minutes earlier and wake them up 10-15 minutes earlier until they’re back on track. And don’t forget to readjust your bedtime schedule, too!
Re-set eating habits. When school starts, your student needs to maintain a high level of energy throughout the day. Implementing a routine for breakfast, lunch and snacks is just as important as their sleeping patterns. Begin this transition 7-10 days before school starts as well.
Inventory wardrobes. Before going school shopping, take some time to go through what you already have, donate things they’ve outgrown, and make a list of what is needed.
Go back to school shopping early. The store aisles are currently packed with school supplies. Take advantage of your summer schedule to shop while the store isn’t as busy and the supplies haven’t been picked through. Don’t forget to buy extras for homework time or the winter re-stock that inevitably happens in January.
Determine how your child will get to and from school and discuss it with your child so they know exactly what to expect. If they will be walking or biking, try to find a neighborhood buddy they can stick with, and be sure to practice the route with them.
Sync your calendars. If you don’t already have one, create a shared family calendar to track everyone’s activities and commitments. Add all the important school dates before the year starts, so important things like parent-teacher night aren’t missed, and everyone is on the same page.
Set rules for after school. After-school time and activities such as TV, video games, play time, and the completion of homework should be well-thought out in advance. Talk about the rules (and consequences) for these before school starts.
Set goals. Research shows that setting and tracking goals leads to success. Before school starts, talk to your child about some things they would like to accomplish this year. Write down their goal(s), post it somewhere visible in the house, and check in periodically with them to see how they are doing.
Implement a weekly family meeting. This will come in handy as the year goes on and schedules become fuller. Put it on the calendar and make it a priority: just a few minutes every week to sit down together, review the schedule for the coming week, and check in with each child about homework, projects, and goals. This is also a good time to clean out and organize backpacks and binders.