This time of year is all about transitions: from summer beach weather to cool, fall air and from endless free time to packed schedules involving school, homework, and after-school activities! Returning to school can create mixed emotions for both parents and children/adolescents. Planning in advance for these changes can help reduce stress and create a positive routine for the family.
A few helpful tips to get started:
Plan ahead for new morning routines.
· Talk to your children about what can be done the night before. Encourage them to pack lunches and backpacks, setting out clothes for the next day, or getting music or athletic equipment needed for next day practices.
· Have your child help create a checklist of two or three tasks they need to do in the morning, as well as a checklist for the night before. Display the lists in a prominent place such as the kitchen or bathroom.
Create a homework plan.
· Allow time to get to know your child’s teachers and homework expectations
· Spend time with your child at first to determine how and where to find assignments and help to prioritize what needs to be done.
· Decide on a quiet space and a consistent time for homework to be completed.
Develop a nighttime schedule.
· Create a routine with your child so they know the expectations for transitioning from homework to screentime to bedtime. A visual reminder can be helpful at first. A timer can be set or a song played to signal the end of the transition time.
· Avoid screentime one hour before bed.
· Allow time at the end of the night to talk with your child about the day and what their hopes and/or concerns are for the next day.
· Create a family calendar using either a paper-based system or computerized calendar (e.g., Google Calendar) and color code each of your commitments/activities. As soon as possible enter in your child’s academic schedule and any extra-curricular commitments so that family life can stay organized. Add reminder notifications for important events or events with deadlines. For young children show them what you are doing and enlist their help. Adolescents could help add in their own schedules as well.
Keep it Simple.
· Keep the first few weeks of school relatively simple. Try to minimize excessive optional activities and allow plenty of downtime for your child to unwind. For parents, try and have realistic expectations about your child’s acclimation to school and that there will be ups and downs.
Being prepared, positive and patient are all ways you can ensure a successful transition to the school year for you and your child. If you find that this transition time is harder than expected, please feel free to contact our office for support.