Beating the Back to School Blues
Rough first couple weeks back at school? It’s just like “vacation hangover” for adults. I don’t know any adults that love being back at work after a nice, long and relaxing vacation. So, it’s not surprising that after three months of summer vacation, getting back into the school year routine can be difficult for both kids and adults!
Two major challenges stand in the way of a smooth back-to-school transition. The first challenge is developing and getting comfortable in the new school year routine as a family. Creating a smooth transition will help every family start the school year off right. The second challenge is not losing that positive, fun, relaxed and happy attitude that accompanies summer! It’s easy to fall victim to the harder parts of going back to school: waking up early, homework and busier schedules. Try making the transition as fun as possible and keep that happy summer spirit alive and beat the back to school blues!
Challenge #1: Easing Transition
1. Develop Routine Before School Starts: Start getting the family back into the school routine about two weeks before the first day of school. Many kids stay up later and wake up later during the summer and it can be difficult to transition to an earlier bedtime the night before school starts. Push bedtime up a little bit each night starting about two weeks prior to the start of school. Begin doing a few school worksheets, extra reading or math problems from the end of the previous year. No need to spend to much time, but 15-20 minutes a day will help kick start their brains and help them remember where they left off last spring.
2. Positive Attitude: Pay attention to how your kids are reacting to the idea that the new school year’s creeping closer. Keep a positive attitude about all the awesome things a new school year brings: new friends, learning cool new things, fresh activities, new teachers and classrooms and another round of sports or extra curricular activities. Yes, there are plenty of things that can be a drag about a new year, but try to minimize those and accentuate the positive!
3. Create a Plan: A solid plan is the best defense against stress! Make sure your family knows the school year plan before the first day. Transportation to and from school, when and where after school activities are taking place and how kids will get to their activities. Also have a family meeting that sets expectations for when kids should be home from friends houses, what time to be home for family dinner, who’s responsible for specific chores, electronics after homework etc. This saves an argument later in the fall!
4. Offer Support: Be aware that going back to school can be a difficult and stressful time for some kids. Listen and pay attention to their behavior and attitude leading up to the first day. Reinforce that you are always eager to help and support them whenever they need it. If they want help working out a difficult friendship from last year, or are stressed about a certain class they have, talk it through and discuss what resources might be helpful (help at study time, tutoring …)
5. Make It Fun: Include your kids in the process and let them make some of their own decisions. Bring them school supply shopping and let them be in charge. Also bring them to the grocery store so they can help pick out what will go in their lunch box. Setting up play dates with other classmates is also a nice way of getting them ready for heading back to school and meeting new friends.
Challenge #2: Making It Fun
1. Start a New Tradition: Have a celebratory dinner at home after the first day of school and let each child pick a dish or head out to a favorite restaurant. Celebrate after school at the park, ice cream shop or museum. Find something your family loves to do together and make it a tradition to do after the first day of each school year.
2. Create a New Work Space: Help your child set up their “work space” for the year. This will vary depending on age, but give them freedom to set up the space how they would like it. Help them think it through while also giving them freedom to decorate or place things where they would like them. Resist moving things around, allow them explore and figure out what works best for them.
3. Freshen Up: A new outfit, haircut, back pack, lunch box or nail polish gives a confidence boost and excitement about starting a new year!
4. Pick 1 New Activity/Hobby: If schedules aren’t too busy, pick one new activity or hobby your child has been talking about. Try joining a soccer team, karate, drama group, art class etc. Exposing kids to all types of activities is a great way to help them find a passion while developing different types of motor and social skills.
5. Party: throw a Back-to-School party! This could be just for your family while ordering pizza and watching a movie, or inviting kids over from their classroom. The weekend before school starts or after the first week to celebrate the completion of first week can both be good timing.