Back to School Preparation: Six Things To Do Before Your Child Starts.
The summer break is slowly coming to an end, and the first day back in school is near approaching. Whether you’ve been taking it easy with a spontaneous attitude during the holidays or have strategically set out a plan for the whole summer, it’s important that back-to-school preparations aren’t neglected or left until the last minute.
Preparing your child to return to school can make the transition much easier and smoother, lessen the risk of screaming, defiant children who don’t want to go back, and reduce stress for everyone. Parenting and Education expert Dr. Gail Gross states that returning to school is a very stressful and anxious time for both students and children, and last minute or no preparation time beforehand will only add stress to an already anxious time.
Preparation should start at least two weeks before that first day, if not before. Here are a few ways you can turn your focus away from summer lazy days and to back-to-school preparation:
1. Reset bedtime and morning routines.
It’s normal for routine to slack a little during the summer break as you grant your child sleep-ins and allow them to stay up a little later than normal, but the minds and bodies of children don’t magically adjust to time changes as easily as adults do. Experts at The National Sleep Foundation state that children have a higher risk of experiencing behavioral problems at school if they don’t get enough sleep.
Starting two weeks before school starts, schedule your child’s bedtime earlier every night at a gradual pace (10-15 minutes) and introduce the alarm clock back into the bedroom so your child gets familiar with the sound. Children typically need nine to 11 hours of sleep each night so plan your routines around this to ensure they get enough rest.
But it’s not just about timing, establishing routines before and after sleep is also important for beating the morning tantrums. Wind down the day with bedtime activities such as stories and bubble baths to create a calming environment for your child to drift into sleep easily.
2. Plan your day around the ‘school schedule.’
Preparing your child to wake up at the same time every morning for school is great, but if they just slip back into ‘summer break routine’ after they wake up, they will have a shock when that first day comes around and they can’t sit in front of the TV all morning anymore. This can cause confusion, anxiety, and anger.
Instead, have your child take a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast at the same time and pace they would have to do if they were going to school. Plan snack and lunch times around the same time as it would be at school to allow their bodies to identify when they will be getting food and breaks. Let them do something outside and ‘return home’ at the same time as they would be ‘returning’ home from school.
Routines help children adapt to big changes and provide the basis for coping. When kids have established and predictable routines, they have an inner sense of safety that gives them the resiliency they need to manage life’s challenges.
3. Plan for the rest of the school year.
Match the family calendar up to the school calendar. Note down any big events, sports days, school trips and organize childcare for those public holidays and school breaks. This can help you as parents to align these events to your own daily schedule at work so you can take vacation time and be there for those important concerts or dance recitals that are a big part of your child’s school experience.
Many schools use email reminders or apps now to remind parents of significant dates and events so make sure you’re signed up to them and given in any paperwork or permission slips needed to avoid getting bombarded with emails and reminders - you have enough of that at work, right?
4. Stock up on your supplies.
Don’t be that momma running around all crazy trying to get everything they need the day before school starts and then blaming the storekeeper for that calculator you ABSOLUTELY need for your child being out of stock. Uniform suppliers also run out of stock fairly quickly so getting their uniform sorted early on and avoid that awkward situation for your child who now has to wear trousers that are two sizes too big.
Reduce the stress of school supply shopping with Sprout School Supplies. We provide only the school supplies you NEED, which prevents you from overspending or missing out on the things that your child requires. School supply kits are put together by YOUR child’s school and from one simple click, your child will have all the supplies they need.
5. Set up a ‘homework space’
Setting up a designated space and time where your child can do their homework can contribute to success and productivity. Involve your child in ‘setting up’ this space - it could be a desk or a corner of the room. Decorate it so the space is welcoming and stock it with supplies they may need.
Encourage your child to sit in this space during the ‘homework time’ even before school starts to do an activity such as drawing. This can get them comfortable and used to being in that space for ‘homework’ time. Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D explained to PsychCentral that children who are taught basic routines like sitting down to do homework every night, grow into organized and efficient adults.
6. Discuss their worries and anxieties.
Take the time to sit down with your child and talk to them about how they are feeling about returning to school or starting a new school. Acknowledge their feelings and worries, no matter how small they may seem, and let them know their feelings are valid. Guide them to think about solutions that would help them ease their worries. Visiting your child’s school at least one week in advance so they can get familiar with their new school can ease anxiety dramatically.
Children are always seeking reassurance and comfort from their parents, especially when discussing back to school nerves so being a good role model is essential. Mary L. Gavin told KidsHealth that parents who don’t show emotions or anxiety when their child is resisting, can ease their stress and reassure them that everything is going to be okay and that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Preparing your child to return or start a new school can make all the difference to their transition and helps them to cope with back to school anxiety and solve problems more effectively. Make preparation a fun and exciting activity for them and involve them in the process as much as possible. And help yourself too, by eliminating the stress of sourcing and buying school supplies with your prepackaged school supply kit from Sprout!