So you’ve had a great summer, but now it’s time to change gears – nights are getting darker, weather is getting cooler and the laid-back scheduling of the summer is replaced by morning routines, packed lunches and homework.
Back-to-School delivers a mixed bag of emotions: excitement at the prospect of new beginnings, a bit of sadness over saying goodbye to the warmer weather and anxiety about helping your Little One transition from Summer Break to New School Year.
But fear not! We’ve got you covered. We’ve put together our top tips to make your Back-to-School transition easy.
Establish a Regular Sleep Routine
Sleep is a major part of brain development, so it’s no surprise that getting a good night’s sleep is key to your Little One showing up as their best.
Relaxed bedtime rules, sleep-ins and giving the brain a rest are just a few perks of Summer Break; but these can make switching gears a challenge when September rolls around.
Prepare your Child for the transition ahead by starting a bedtime routine at least a week to ten days before school starts, so that they can not only catch up on sleep after summer excitement, but also re-adjust to the bedtime routine.
Give Feelings a Place
Anxiety can manifest in children in many different ways, and; unlike adults; children don’t always know how to manage their emotions.
Two months is a long time in the life of a child; what if little Susie doesn’t like them anymore? What if Mrs. So-and-So isn’t like Ms. Such-and-Such? What if they can’t find the washroom from their new classroom?
There could be lots of thoughts running through your Child’s head – many, which may not have occurred to us as Parents; or even seem significant; but over time these things build up and can cause anxiety in the Child preparing to return to School.
Give these feelings a place by holding space for your Child and their feelings. A great way to do this is to establish daily “Us Time” - a time each day (ideally the same time), in which you and your Child share alone time together, where you can talk through the events of the day and prepare for upcoming events.
Setting up a daily routine like this not only creates special bonding time; but also keeps the lines of communication open and signals to your Child that this is a safe space to talk about anything on their mind.
Not being able to picture something can be very overwhelming for many – and children are definitely no exception.
Little things like; knowing what clothes they’ll be wearing, what school supplies they’ll be using, or what their pencil case and lunch kit looks like can help prepare a child for what’s ahead.
It paints a picture and sets their expectations of what’s to come.
Take your Child with you to complete back-to-school shopping; or go through their new items with them. This will allow them to see in their mind what’s ahead and reduce potential overwhelm.
Practice the Route
It’s been a long time since they last walked/drove/took the bus to school and something as pedestrian as the route has been replaced by thoughts of all the exciting things that happened over the summer.
Practice the route a few times, so that by the time you’re doing it for real, your Little One knows what to expect.
Plan B: What to do “If” happens
When in doubt, plan it out. Following on from #2, children can experience social anxiety about situations that may arise (whether real or perceived).
Running through these scenarios and creating a plan of action if their worst fears are realized helps your Little One feel prepared to face whatever might come their way.
It’s easy to want our children to become the next Mozart; or the next Gretzky; but over-scheduling children can cause significant issues later in life; as well as affect their ability to focus during school time.
As adults, we perform at our peak when there is sufficient “margin” between activities, allowing us to decompress, rest our bodies (and brains) and recharge. Healthy development places even more significance on this for children.
Create breathing space for your child so that they can focus just on the back-to-school transition for the first month of the school year, and then slowly add back in their after-school activities.
Don’t let the Lunch Kit hold them back!
Last but-not-least; make sure your little one knows how to work all the things you won’t be there to help with.
That romper might look super cute, but if she can’t take it off to use the washroom; she might end up in a jam. The new lunch kit might come with all the whistles and bells, but if it’s stiff to open, he might develop anxiety about daily lunch break.
While Mrs. So-and-So and Ms. Such-and-Such will be on hand to help, empower your child to feel independent (and grown up) and make sure they know how to open their lunch kit or work their pants zipper before they are faced with the reality of having to do so. It not only builds their confidence, but gives you peace of mind too.
Back-to-School doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing; or hard work. This is the start of another school-year adventure and by deploying some of the tactics we’ve outlined here; both you and your Little One can feel confident and excited going into the new school year!
Comment below and tell us your Helpful Hint for making Back-to-School a cinch.