Back to School: How to Strive and Thrive During the Transition

18
Aug

Back to School: How to Strive and Thrive During the Transition

By: Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.

Summer is almost over, and we will soon be seeing the flashing lights of school buses during the morning and afternoon commutes. Now that August has arrived and the summer is quickly coming to an end, it is time for parents to begin thinking about getting ready for school. Gearing up for the new school year can be very difficult for families. Buying supplies, going to orientations, and getting the kids to bed earlier can make those last few weeks before school stressful, especially for parents. Here are several suggestions to make this time of year more enjoyable for all.

  • Go to bed and wake up earlier. By gradually modifying the times your children go to bed and wake up over the course of a few weeks, you can help them transition to new sleep and wake routines without having to do it during the first week of school. This allows their bodies to have time to adjust to the gradual changes as well, and makes the morning evening hours more enjoyable for all.
  • Make a plan before going school shopping. Before you even step foot into a mall or local store to do back to school shopping, it is very important for you to make a list of what you need and plan a set budget. Have your children make lists of the items that they need for school. You can also sort through their wardrobe and determine what will still fit, and what clothing items you may need to purchase. By having a prepared list and a set budget, you can do your back to school shopping more effectively; and there is less stress in trying to determine what your child needs versus what he or she may want.
  • Pack backpacks with the school supplies you purchase. After shopping for back to school items, it is important to organize and put them in a safe place. Many households are chaotic during the last few weeks of summer, and items can be lost easily. The simplest and safest thing you can do is to pack the items that you bought for your child in his or her backpack. That way you do not have to spend several hours the night before school searching the house for a lost pack of markers.
  • Establish a general routine for meal times. During the summer months, we can become more lax with the times when we have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By gradually moving toward a set meal schedule, you will be able to help your children’s bodies adjust to the time differences in a gradual way.
  • Visit your child’s school. It is very important for children to feel comfortable with their surroundings at school. In the last few weeks of summer, you can visit your child’s new school several times. By having picnics, peeking in the windows, meeting staff and reviewing your child’s schedule, you will be able to help him or her feel more comfortable when the first day of school arrives.
  • Make a family plan. Summer is a time of more relaxed family schedules and chore routines. Prior to the start of school, have a family meeting and discuss the chores that need to be done, who will be doing them, and when. By establishing your chore routines ahead of time, you will be setting your expectations for your children and hopefully eliminate some of the battles that can occur with completing tasks.
  • Relax and enjoy your time together! Summer is a wonderful time for family members to have fun together. Even though the school year is quickly approaching, it is still important to make time to have fun with one another. Try to take that last family trip to the beach or the amusement park, and enjoy one another’s company.

As we embark on the beginning of a new school year, it is important for families to keep their stress at a manageable level. Transitions are difficult for children; but by maintaining consistency and establishing routines, this time of the year can be more enjoyable for all. Enjoy the last few days of summer!