Going Back to School Smoothly
As summer winds down, attention turns to the school year. Homework, projects, meetings, rehearsals, practices, tests - it can be a lot for both your kiddo and you. Whether your kids are going back to school virtually or in-person this fall, these tips can help make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved!
Talk with Your Kids and Find Out How They're Feeling
This is good advice for kids of any age and any grade level! Going back to school can be stressful even in the best years, and especially when your kids are facing a milestone (new school, first year of school, first year of elementary school, first year of middle school, first year of highschool, last year of highschool, etc.). This year, your kids might also be nervous about being back in the classroom after being at home on Zoom for so long.
Finding out what your child might be thinking or feeling as the school year approaches will help you know how to navigate this transition in ways that will help them the most. Some anxiousness is natural - it's a new situation! Let them honestly communicate their concerns (and their excitement!) and don't dismiss them, even if the specific worries might seem like small things to you. Once you know what they're struggling with, you can help them come up with ways to alleviate or manage those nerves! Sometimes a little reassurance is all we need.
Pick Out School Supplies Together
Letting your child be involved in picking out their school supplies can help them be a little more excited about things. Give them as much freedom as possible picking out their favorite colors or patterns! You can let them decorate their notebooks or backpacks, too. Of course, make sure you get everything you know they'll definitely need for the beginning of the school year, too. Showing up prepared on the first day can help them feel a little more confident. If there's anything you're not sure about getting, though, you can absolutely wait until you've gotten a little more guidance from the teacher.
Visit the School
Your child (of any age!) might find it helpful if you visit the school campus before school officially begins, especially if they'll be at a new location this fall. You can get a feel for the layout of the campus together, plus track down where their classroom(s), locker, and cafeteria might be. Figuring things out without classmates around can help them feel a little more comfortable in their new environment.
If you'll be homeschooling or participating in virtual classes again this fall, designate a dedicated "school" space in your house. It doesn't have to be a whole room, and you don't have to fill it with books and desks and easels and blocks. But an out-of-the-way area that's solely for school can help your student get into the classroom mindset. It also gives them something to "leave" at the end of the school day. Creating those boundaries between the "classroom" and the rest of the home can also help keep the classroom from taking over every inch of your house.
Come Up with a Routine That Works for Your Family
Structure and routines can be beautiful, helpful things. Going to bed at the same time regularly, getting up at the same time, making it a point to eat breakfast before hitting the car or bus, dedicating time to working homework - all things that can help school days flow a little more smoothly. You might even make a daily checklist of must-do's before lights out or leaving the house. Use a dry erase board with dry erase and wet erase markers and go over the list together so everyone is on the same page.
If you or your kiddo are more visual people, create a calendar and lay out any special days, events, meetings, practices, appointments, or activities that you can think of. Of course, things will always pop up at the last minute, but this way you'll all have an idea of what's coming up for the week and hopefully make things a little less chaotic.
If you can, start your new routine in the weeks leading up to the first day of school, rather than the night before. That way you're all not overwhelmed by so many new changes at once. And don't forget to make your own adjustments, too! If you typically do better with a cup of coffee and 15 minutes of quiet before the day starts, you may need to push your wake up time back a little so you can still fit your routine into the new schedule.
Be Aware of Any Safety Procedures and Prepare Accordingly
Since it's 2021, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention COVID-19 in the back-to-school prep. If your kids are going back to in-person classes and will be wearing masks indoors, make sure you've got enough masks that your kids like and that fit their faces well. Those two factors will make the masks much easier for them to wear. If you're using cloth masks, pick up plenty with designs they'll like wearing so you can rotate them out and wash them frequently.
If your kids are old enough to reliably use their own hand sanitizer, consider getting some fun keychain sanitizer holders they can carry with them on their backpack or even on a belt loop. Bath & Body Works carries some fun every day and seasonal ones!
Be Patient and Stay Positive
No matter how well prepared you are, transitions can still be rocky. Stay patient as everyone adapts to the new routine, and don't be hesitant to change up your plans or approach if you realize they aren't working for you. Communicate with your child and their teacher as much as needed. Address any concerns or questions you have right away, and work together toward a solution. And don't be afraid to think outside the box!
Most importantly, stay positive. Your kiddo will pick up on your tensions and attitudes and respond accordingly. If you're able to approach the school year positively, it will help them approach it positively, too.