Have you noticed? The days are getting a little shorter, store aisles are full of school supplies and you may have seen a school bus or two making practice runs in your neighborhood. All this can only mean one thing: it’s back to school time!
If you are like most people, you are not quite ready to say goodbye to the relaxing days of summer. Late nights and lightly-scheduled days are a welcome break after a year of early mornings and homework deadlines. Those slow days of summer are such a welcome break!
But with the approach of the new school year comes the necessity to ease back into a routine that helps your children succeed. Changing routines can be tough under any circumstances. But when our routines change from ‘fun and relaxing’ to ‘less fun and somewhat stressful,’ it can be even tougher to pull off!
The best way to lessen the shock of a new school year is to ease your children into their school routine before school starts. Getting a jump start on new schedules and new responsibilities will allow them to adjust before school actually starts and the pace really picks up.
Here are some areas to focus on for back to school prep:
1. Sleep schedule. Almost without realizing it, we tend to slip into a different sleep pattern during summer—later nights make for later wake times. This is probably due to several factors, including the fact that the days are longer and the school bus isn’t coming! When school starts, however, your children need to be on a different sleep schedule, otherwise they will have a very hard time getting up. Try this: a few days before school starts, ease their bed times and wake times back 15 minutes each day. This will help them to painlessly get used to a more school-friendly sleep schedule.
2. Daily schedule. Your children have probably grown accustomed to low pressure schedules this summer. However, when school starts, having a schedule is critical. There are only so many hours each day to fit in school, homework, extra-curricular commitments, church and chores. Make it all work by creating a schedule that your children can follow.
3. Chores. The only way to make a busy household run smoothly is for everyone to pull their share of the load. Assign each of your children age-appropriate chores to do. Offer rewards for a job well done and give additional chores for non-compliance. Even preschoolers can help around the house by emptying small trash cans and picking up toys and books.
4. Planners. Buy each of your children a planner and help them to get used to using it before school starts. The more familiar they are with their planner, the easier it will be for them to use it when classes and other activities get underway. Encourage them to write in their class schedule, their homework schedule, their sports and club schedules and even their chore routines.
5. Fitness. It goes without saying that your children need to move. Literally. Sitting for long hours in the classroom and on the bus hinders their ability to concentrate and also lowers their energy levels. If your school does not offer a physical education program, get your child involved in some kind of exercise routine. Not only will their grades likely improve, but they will be less stressed in general and will be more able to handle the pressures that school brings.
Back to school prep does not have to be difficult; it just takes a little planning. Using these tips will help to instill good habits in your children that will set them up for success.