Where on earth did summer go? This is the question that parents and children ask around this time of year. Most summer vacations are over and back to school supplies have been purchased. The transition from summer vacation to a routine back to school schedule can be difficult on the whole family. Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence and performance both socially and academically according to Katherine Cowan with the National Association of School Psychologists.
Even children who are eager and excited to head back to school will need to adjust to greater levels of activity, structure and overall pressures associated with back to school. This transition not only affects children, but also parents. Parents can experience mixed emotions about a child’s return to the classroom, despite the funny commercials that we see of parents celebrating their child’s return. According to the U.S. News health division, the long daylight hours with no homework and few structured activities give parents a break from working late into the night to help a child finish a project, study for a test or bake cupcakes. The start of school means getting back to all of that, not to mention the need for increased vigilance with things like sticking to a regular bedtime.
Tips for making a successful back to school transition
Before the school year officially begins, it’s important to ease the transition as much as possible to promote a successful school experience. Here are a few recommendations:
- Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule a back to school physical and discuss any concerns you have over your child’s health with your pediatrician.
- Review all materials sent by the school as soon as it arrives. This information typically includes important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, emergency forms and other pertinent information.
- Create a calendar the entire family can see and access. The calendar can include important dates and help make everyone in the family aware of upcoming activities and to-dos.
- Re-establish a bedtime routine. Psychologists suggest re-establishing bedtime and mealtime routines, especially breakfast at least one week before school starts. This recommendation can be one of the most challenging, but it’s important to reiterate to your children the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming overly tired or overwhelmed by schoolwork and activities.
- Give the TV a break. Encourage your children and teens to read instead of watching television. This can help ease your child into the learning process that back to school will require.
- Parents—freeze a few easy dinners. It will be a lot easier on you if you have dinner prepared so that meal preparation will not add to household tension or the traditional hectic environment that back to school can sometimes create.
Parent involvement can most definitely make a difference in a child’s achievement in school. Although the transition of going back to school can sometimes be a process, a little preparation and communication will help make the transition smooth. With these tips in mind, you can make getting back to school easier on everyone in your household.