By Adrian Sparrow
School is just around the corner, which brings a great deal of both excitement and anxiety. During the last weeks of summer break, help ease your child’s transition to the structure of school with a few simple preparations.
To make a fresh start, you have to start fresh. Spend part of the summer cleaning up the house, organizing all the closets, and donating clothes, shoes, and toys that the kids have outgrown or don’t use anymore. Make room for the new books, clothes, and supplies that will accumulate over the next school year.
-Calendars and Schedules
Put a big calendar in a common area for the whole family to see and mark the days until school starts. Kids will feel more at ease and prepared knowing when the big day is. Pencil in after-school activities, grocery shopping, and other errands, so you and your kids have time to readjust to routines but still leave room for the unexpected. Don’t overload your time with activities that could lead to burnout later in the semester. Balance extracurricular activities with scheduled time to simply relax.
If you need to adjust to a new sleep schedule, start a new bedtime and wake-up time several days before school to reset the body’s internal rhythm – without snoozing.
As people return to school and sports, August and September are busy for healthcare providers. Schedule each child’s physical early enough in the summer, so their immunizations and records are up-to-date before entering school. Give yourself extra time for nutritional changes, new physical activity, or other lifestyle adjustments to make the school transition easier.
Some schools provide a checklist of supplies, but you can find pre-existing checklists for preschool through high school online. For kids who are still growing, get clothes a size larger than their perfectly-fitting size, so you don’t have to make extra purchases before the holidays. Don’t stock up on winter clothes too early if they could be the wrong size by November.
Look up your state’s tax-free period for school supplies (Usually in July or August) and plan around it. While you’ll save on taxes, so will everyone else who’s going back to school, which can lead to crowded stores and shopping malls.
-School Year Expectations
Ease into the school year by practicing school skills ahead of time. Practice reading, engage your brains with critical thinking games and puzzles, and explore a fascinating subject online or at the library. Socialization and new relationships can be hard for anybody who’s out of practice. Engage with other kids and caregivers in your community, and create small spaces for socializing or individual outings and playdates. Building friendships, empathy, and compassion can help pull kids and parents through stressful experiences. Take advantage of back-to-school orientation and activities to meet the teachers, learn the locations for drop-off, classrooms, bathrooms, and pick-up; and perhaps meet a new friend.
Plan out everybody’s favorite meals across the month and ensure you and the kids have enough brain fuel to get through each day. Pick out recipes for dinner, healthy snacks, fast breakfast foods, and easy-to-pack lunch foods. Write grocery lists for each week ahead of time. If you don’t anticipate having the energy to cook every single dinner, get ready-made meals you can pop in the oven.
As a new school year begins, you might find your child (or yourself) building anxiety. Feeling nervous when faced with a new experience and new people is normal. Kids will be stressed throughout the day and may need time to decompress after school, especially with a new school or classroom. Give yourself and your kids extra time the night before school to relax and enjoy low-key fun and games to ease the nerves. Even after school starts, remain patient with kids, as classroom rules, routines, and academic expectations will likely change as the year progresses. Share your school experiences and work together to find peaceful and healthy solutions. If you and the kids still struggle to adjust, don’t hesitate to reach out to their teachers or healthcare professionals.