It’s here. The most anticipated, and sometimes dreaded, part of the year...it’s time to go back to school. Stores are filled with displays of colorful notebooks and pens. Social media is filled with ads for backpacks and school shoes. It’s like Christmas...but with way less toys and cookies and maybe more anxiety and stress.
Whether you feel intense joy when you see that first display of school supplies, or dread sending your child back for another year of formal schooling, there are things you can do now to make the transition go a little more smoothly.
Slowly move up bedtime
Part of the fun of summer is the ability to be a little more lax on bedtime. It’s all fun and games until it’s time to wake up bright and early for the first day of school. Being well rested the first week can make a huge difference in how your child adjusts to their new classroom and routine. Waiting until a few days before school starts to start your child on their “school bedtime” might not be enough, as it takes a while for our bodies to adjust to new sleeping routines and patterns. The National Sleep Foundation suggests starting to adjust your child’s bedtime gradually at least two weeks before the first day of school. Click here to read the other tips from the National Sleep Foundation for establishing a back to school bedtime routine.
Practice and perfect routines
Routines are a solid way to set the whole family up for success when it’s time to head back to class. Find an opportunity to map out your ideal before and after school routines and set aside time to practice and adjust them in the weeks leading up to the first day. Consider posting the routines in a common area or in your child’s room to help everyone remember the flow. For a live run getting dressed, packing backpacks, and making lunches, consider planning an outing to a park or museum in which everyone must carry out these tasks in order to go on a fun adventure.
Talk about worries and concerns
It’s common for children to feel anxiety, worry, and even fear during the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Make time and space for your child to express their worries and fears about going back to school, and try to help them find ways to cope with these feelings. It might be helpful to address concerns by taking a tour of the school, rehearsing routines, or finding your child a classroom buddy that they can get to know before the first day. For more tips on when to be concerned about back to school anxiety and how to help your child cope, check out this article from Hopkins Medicine.
Practice self care and stress relief
Back to school can be stressful and exhausting for parents and students alike. Planning for regular exercise and rest times can make a huge difference in how everyone handles the back to school season. Make a list of things you can do as a family to take care of yourselves and relieve stress during the first weeks of school and beyond. When things get overwhelming, pick something from the list to do before moving on to stressful tasks. Some items might include:
Extend grace whenever possible
The most important thing to remember during times of stress and transition is that a little grace can go a long way. Whenever things don’t go as expected, either with your child, their teacher, or yourself, try to extend grace whenever possible. Acknowledge that everyone is trying their best during this exhausting season of transitioning back to school, and let yourself and others off the hook when you can.
How are you preparing for back to school right now? We would love to hear in the comments!
Hoffman Tutoring Group