It's that time of year again -- back to school! If you've got a house full of moans and groans over the prospect, try using some of these great tips for making the transition for sleepy summers smooth.
Two weeks before school starts
- Get your child to open up about his expectations for school. Ask him if he feels excited, anxious, or a little bit of both. Talk with him about specific worries he has for the upcoming year.
- Explain the upcoming school routine in detail. Go over your child’s schedule, including the times by which he’ll need to wake up, eat breakfast, and be ready to leave the house. Have a couple practice runs beforehand.
- Make the transition from summer to school bedtimes by starting your kids going to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night about two weeks before school, with no more staying up until ten or eleven o’clock at night.
- With your child’s help, brainstorm and come up with a list of his favorite lunches and snacks to pack for school in order to make grocery shopping easier and for quick reference on school nights.
A Week Before School Starts
- Make sure your child feels comfortable with how he will be getting to school. Drive the bus route with him, walk with him to school the first week, or find an older child to walk with him. Review safety precautions regarding traffic and strangers.
- Make back-to-school shopping into a special outing that includes lunch for just the two of you.
- Store out-of-season and dress clothes where your child doesn’t see them to avoid fights over wearing a party dress to school or a bathing suit all day.
- Put away your child’s clothes in matching sets, and let him have the independence of choosing which set he’ll wear that day.
- Make sure your child is comfortable using the school’s bathrooms by himself, and choose school clothes that are easy for your child to pull on and off himself. Opt for elastic waists over zippers or snaps.
The Night Before/First Day of School
- Take pictures, and pick one spot to do this each year, such as the front porch or steps.
- Make a big family sit-down dinner the night before or after the first day. Talk through some of the highlights of the summer and state one goal for the coming school year.
- Pack all the items you and your child need for work, school, or day care and load the car. If that’s not feasible, place coats, bags, and lunch boxes by the door.
- Pack lunches and refrigerate sandwiches — sometimes this is easiest to do while making dinner. Put your car keys with the sandwiches if it helps your remember to add the sandwiches to lunch boxes in the morning, or put a note on the lunch box to remind you.
- Start the school year off right by making the first day something to celebrate. Have a big breakfast, decorate the kitchen, serve a favorite meal, and hand out new lunch boxes or school supplies.
- Bake your child a batch of his favorite cookies as something to look forward to after the stress of the first day.
- Pack something familiar in your child’s backpack to make him feel more comfortable, and something new to make him feel special.
- Make up a goodbye ritual. Don’t sneak away, even if you’re tempted to avoid a big teary scene. Give a hug, a kiss, and a warm but firm goodbye. Don’t ask for your child’s permission to leave, return after you’ve left if you hear your child cry, or bribe your child into letting you leave.
- Tape a picture of yourself and your partner near your child’s coat hook or cubby area. Your child will be able to take a peek at Mom and Dad whenever she likes.