Back to school is here! Parents everywhere are celebrating, but children maybe struggling with this change. After a long summer break of freedom and fun, the idea of homework and school can cause stress and anxiety in your children. To help your children have less stressful and more positive return to school, its important to prepare them mentally as well as ensuring they have the right supplies. A child who is mentally prepared for back to school will help them start the school with a healthy, stable and strong mind.
Since my kids were babies, they have thrived on routine. Ensuring their naps, feeding schedules and play times were at the same time everyday allowed them to know what to expect next. As a result, we had relatively smooth transitions between activities will no stress or struggle. As my children have aged, I have found that they still require some level of routine. When their routines are altered, they would experience melt downs, temper tantrums and behavioral issues. During the course of the summer, our routines become lax and more go of the flow, but as school returns its important to reestablish these routines to ensure that there is are able to deal with the demands of school, homework and after school activities. Two areas we focus on are:
a. Sleep – Having a regular sleep routine is important so that children obtain enough sleep to ensure proper amount of sleep and quality of sleep ensure healthy growth and repair. Children who do not get enough sleep tend to do poor in school work, lack focus and have problematic behaviors.
b. Homework – Last year, DS8 struggled dramatically with homework. Each night, there was a fighting, yelling and tears when the word ‘homework’ was mentioned. This year, I am determined not to repeat last year’s disaster
ACTION STEP: Create a routine that works for your family. Establish times for sleep, homework, school, and after school activities. Place it in an area where everyone can see it and follow it.
Kids are born with the desire to be independent. There isn’t a day that goes by that one of my kids says to me in frustration that they can do it themselves. As back to school roles around, its important for parents to realize that their children need to develop these independent skills to survive in the educational world. For example, all summer long my children have been on a 3 kids to 1 adult relationship. As a result, their needs and wants are dealt with almost automatically. As they return to school, this ratio expands to 20 kids to 1 teacher. As a result, they need to learn to do tasks independently, except to prepare them for this we need to provide them direction rather then giving them the answers, encourage them to make decisions for themselves and give them opportunities to shine on their own.
ACTION STEP: Give your children tasks that they are responsible for completing themselves. A great way to do this is with a weekly chore list.
Get your kids back into reading
Going back to school means its time to put on their thinking caps. Over the summer holiday, it isn’t uncommon for children to forget what they have learned the previous year. To get them back on track, a great way to sharpen their thinking skills is reading. Here are two of my favourite ways to encourage reading:
a. Reading before bed- Nightly reading is a must in our house. It is our favourite time of day. We turn off TVs and all other electronics and cuddle on the bed to share a story as a family. Instead of simply reading the book story, I like to ask, quiz and challenge my kids as we read (i.e. what’s going to happen next? Why do you think he did that?). It take the reading experience to a whole new level.
b. Magazine subscriptions – I remember growing up and not so patiently waiting for my monthly Highlights magazine subscription. It was a exciting surprised that provided hours of endless reading fun. Half the time, they won’t even realize they are doing it!
ACTION STEP: Find something your child is interested in and try to incorporate that interest into a reading task!
Overall, remember that back to school is a transition period. You need to understand that it may not go smoothly for everyone. By taking the time to plan it out, create routines and ensuring that everyone understands what is expected of them, Back to School can be a great time of year!