Preparing Your Children To Go Back to School
If your children haven’t headed back to school yet, they will be shortly. Some of you have kids who are going to school for the first time, while others have kids moving into a new grade or even a new school. Preparing for a new school year can bring lots of excitement for families; however, some children may experience anxiety around the unknown. New teachers, new grade levels, new friends, or even a brand-new school are all things your kids may be thinking about, even if they aren’t talking about them.
No matter your children’s ages, one of the most important things you and your spouse can do for them at any time, but especially at the start of the school year, is establish routines and rituals. Human beings like to know what to expect, and kids are no different. They especially thrive on consistency and structure. When these elements aren’t present, they tend to feel out of control which can lead to acting out. They may throw temper tantrums, refuse to do homework, or act disrespectfully.
So, don’t wait. Sit down with your spouse, and put together a game plan to help your children launch into the school year positively. Remember, routines and rituals do not mean rigidity. Establishing routines provides a solid foundation, but with kids, you must allow for flexibility when things don’t always go according to plan, and that’s OK.
Here are four tips to help your family’s transition into a new school year be a positive experience.
1. Talk with your children about the school year before it starts.
In the weeks leading up to school, talk with your kids about the year. Ask them questions, and learn how they’re feeling about returning to see their friends and entering a new grade level with a new teacher. If your little ones have never been to school before, take a trip to their new school. Know they may be scared, so take their feelings seriously.
2. Commit to approaching the school year with your spouse as a team.
Discuss now how you’ll approach situations that occur during the school year. What are drop off and pick up duties going to look like? Who will pick your children up and/or stay home with them when they’re sick? What are dinner plans and extracurricular activities going to look like? Allow for flexibility but establish a general routine, so you and your spouse feel confident with one another, which will ultimately lead to your kids feeling confident as well.
3. Establish a morning and evening routine for your family.
The mornings before work and school can be hurried and stressful, creating anxiety for parents and children. Determine your family’s expectations ahead of time. Do you plan to eat breakfast together? What time should your kids be awake and getting ready? Who will pack lunches? In the evenings, who will help your little ones set out their clothes, school gear, sports gear, etc.? Keeping in mind that children need adequate rest, what time is bedtime? Connecting as a family in the evenings can help the mornings run more smoothly.
4. Know your children and your family.
It’s so important that both you and your spouse are in touch with your kids’ needs. When making decisions together about homework, chores, television, extracurricular activities, playtime, etc. consider the following: Are they early risers or night owls? Do little things tend to stress them out? Do they enjoy individualized or team activities? Don’t be afraid to make decisions for your children and family based on what’s best for everyone involved.
When your children see you taking their concerns about school seriously, they’re more likely to be excited about the experience and less stressed. Celebrate the wins from the summer and the wins to come with this transition. Give your spouse and your kids grace as you adjust to the new school year. The time and effort you and your spouse spend preparing for the year ahead and investing in your children will give them the best chance for success.