Back to School, Ready or Not?
5 Tips Not on Any Other List to Prepare Kids for School
Ready or not, the summer is coming to a close and the school year is fast approaching. Some kids are excited to see their friends, others are anxious about the academic and social demands. Whatever position a parent is in when sending kids back to school, there are ways to ease the transition.
1. Set Academic Goals Together
It is the goal of most parents for their children to be a “good student.” It is also the goal for many kids. However, most families don’t talk about the specific expectations until there is trouble. Instead, this year, sit with each child individually and talk about what his or her expectations are for the school year. Ask questions such as, “What grades are you working for?” and “How will you know you are trying your best?” At that point, parents can set their expectations. Include in the discussion, what you expect your children to do when they are not meeting those expectations. For example, if a class is particularly challenging and your child is not meeting the expectations, he or she needs to come to you and let you know with a plan to improve it (meet with teacher, work with tutor, study with you for next test, etc.). You want to promote the idea of being proactive when things are challenging, not waiting until they get in trouble before addressing it.
2. Develop the Plan for Homework and Morning Routines
From the very start discuss the evening and morning routines. Most parents need time to adjust the new schedules too. Don't wait to figure it out as you go along. Set the family up for success and have a plan ahead of time. Talk about things such as expected times for homework, (this may change as outside activities change, that is okay), bedtimes, wake-up, breakfast, putting backpacks together, leaving for school, etc.
3. Get the Bedtime Routines Back
As much as your kids resist, it is time to get them back on track with bedtimes. Try to have dinners earlier and wind down for the night at set times. This is just as important for teens as it is for younger kids. For younger kids this may mean re-establishing bath time, reading, and lights out. For all kids this means having them unplug from electronics (including phones) at a set time. Turn off TV, iPads, video games, and phones to allow them to wind down from the stimulation electronics provides.
4. Talk About a “Check-In Basket”
If you have kids who have electronics in their rooms, it is very tempting to use them after bedtime. If you have teens that bring a phone to bed, chances are they are on it after the light goes out. Checking it in at a designated time can be an important routine to establish, a charging station in the kitchen perhaps.
If it is established from the start, it removes the temptation and establishes a healthy routine.
5. Plan End of the Summer Fun
Preparing for getting back to school doesn’t have to be all drab. Plan an end of the summer activity with some of your kid’s friends. This is not only fun, but it is a great way for them to reconnect to peers after a summer break. For kids who feel anxious about going back to school, this can be really helpful. Talk to your kids about what they think would be fun. It can be something easy, like a movie and pizza or sleepover with a friend or two. It can also include something like a BBQ, beach day, or park.
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