As we near the end of the summer holiday, our attention fades from planning vacation trips to getting our children ready to return to a school schedule. Of course, stores began their “Back-to-School” clothing and supplies sales in late June when we had hardly started to enjoy the break, but now it’s really time to get back in the swing of things. In our opinion, as parents and educators, there are a few general areas where you can assist your student to prepare and transition into the new school year.
1. BEDTIME ROUTINES – SET THE CLOCK BACK
Summer vacation is notorious for extended bedtimes … and why not?
Kids enjoy the warm weather by playing outside, riding their bikes, and enjoying many other activities. But returning to a bedtime routine can be challenging. According to the National Sleep Foundation, here is a quick guide for how much sleep your child needs each night:
While your child may still be getting this amount of sleep, the likelihood of having a set bedtime and being dressed, eating breakfast, and arriving at school on time each day is no longer a routine. Start using the school clock to get your child back into the habits he or she will need during the next nine months. Bedtime routines need to be re-established well in advance.
2. MORNING ROUTINES
In his book “Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World,’’ Admiral William H. McRaven recommends doing little things like straightening your covers each morning. This creates a sense of discipline and sets the tone for the day. It also creates a sense of satisfaction, even in young children, that they have participated in something that is important in your home and that they have accomplished on their own.
Another important morning routine is breakfast. Because of busy family schedules, breakfast is sometimes the only meal a family can eat together. It’s good to have that time together because it creates a sense of community. It’s also a time for children to learn how to communicate without technology getting in the way. Breakfast also provides the fuel they need to do well in school. That makes a huge difference in their readiness for learning.
3. READ EVERY NIGHT
Even though reading is something children should be doing year-round, many families find that routines are often disrupted over the summer and reading takes a holiday, too. In the next few weeks before school begins, have your child get back into the habit of reading a book, magazine, or newspaper each night. It does not need to be a lengthy read, but the routine will help once the homework begins to come home soon after school starts. Peruse these reading lists or visit your public library to check out a selection of good books!
4. ANXIETY OUTLET
Depending on your child’s age and temperament, anxiety may be an issue. Whether joining TC Christian for the first time this year, ‘stepping up’ to another school division, or simply the unknown of the next grade level – children may be anxious about what is to come. Remind them that everyone feels nervous on the first day of school (even principals and teachers), stress the positive things about going back to school, and most importantly, be there to listen to their concerns. While it is not necessary to have an answer for the anxious child, it is important to be there as an empathetic listener. Share your own stories and school anxiety of when you were a child.
These few small efforts can really help a student start the school year off right!