School time is almost here for my kids and quite possibly yours as well. If they haven’t started yet, I imagine they will be very soon! Getting ready for back to school can be quite a feat since all those long summer days and late summer nights can lead to more difficult transitions when it comes to school. We all love the freedom that summer brings, but also know how important school is and how much better our kids do when they are well rested and ready to go each morning! Our kids very quickly get out of their school day routines the minute summer begins, so it does take a bit of time to get them back into getting up at a certain time, into bed at a certain time and getting their brains ready for school.
Back to school time doesn’t have to be daunting, with these 5 tips, you can get your kids in tip-top shape for when the first school bell rings!
1. Start a few days BEFORE the first day of school.
Even the most scheduled parent often lets things slide during the summer, and why shouldn’t they?? The sun sets later so that means later bedtimes. Some of my fondest childhood memories were playing with my friends and cousins late into the summer night with games of flashlight tag or perhaps toasting s’mores by the fire pit. It’s natural for kids to want to stay up later, especially since they can sleep a little later as well (if you are one of those lucky parents that has kids that actually take advantage of that!), then add in some family vacations or weekend trips and their internal clocks are ALL messed up. Well before the first day of school, decide what your child’s bedtime will be for the upcoming year and about a week before, start getting them into bed a little earlier each night. Ease them inside around 10 minutes earlier each day so by the time the first day comes, they aren’t having trouble falling asleep since they had been used to going to bed 1 or 2 hours later the previous night.
2. Begin to limit electronics a few days before.
Along the same lines as the staying up, most of us let that “one hour a day” electronics rule slide some in the summer. Granted, most kids are also outside more in the yard, pool or at the beach, but often when we are inside and having down time, the first thing they want is to play their games. I know personally my kids are super busy during the school year between regular homework, after school clubs, and sports so naturally they don’t have as much screen time, but in the summer, all bets are off. I don’t mind letting them play a little extra during the summer, as long as they are getting in mom’s required reading too! The week before school, it is best to begin to limit these some so it’s easier for them to transition back. I like to bring back that one hour rule a few days before school (or fairly close to that) so that they aren’t crying to me the first day of school, begging for their tablets.
3. Do a practice run before that first day.
If your kids have a difficult time transitioning or are known for dragging their feet in the mornings, it’s a good idea to do a practice run before school. Get everyone up early and make believe it’s a school day and try and get ready and out the door on time. Doing this will help to see if your plan for the mornings is on point or if you need to tweak it some. Obviously you won’t be going to school, so instead treat the kids to something fun like a day trip, park visit or beach day instead.
4. Deal with any stressors, yours or theirs.
Are you a mom with a first time kinder? Or perhaps you have a little one transitioning into full day school when they were in half day the previous year? Maybe you just have a child that gets nervous the first day- or maybe it’s you that gets a little nervous. No matter what the situation, begin to address these fears or apprehensions BEFORE school starts. There’s nothing worse that bringing your child into school on the first day and having them cling to your leg with this “please, GOD, don’t leaveeee me here!!!” look on their face! (been there!). Talk to your children before school and ask them how they are feeling. Answer as many questions as you can about how their schedule will be and what sort of activities they’ll be doing during the day. Most schools have a “meet the teacher” night or an open house where they can tour the school and meet their new teacher. Be sure to attend if you can so they can be familiar with their new room, which should also help to ease any fears.
5. Carry a few summer traditions into the new school year.
Some of our kids best memories are made during the summer, so why not carry a few of those “summer” traditions into the school year? Before things get too hectic with sports and homework, try to get some additional outside time in the afternoon or after dinner. Did your kids love those long bike rides you took? Well do a shorter one after dinner or maybe just a nice walk around the block. Make a habit of getting outside together after the school day ends, for as long as the warm weather lasts. Use this time to connect with your kids and ask about their day, who their new friends are, any worries they had. You may not have as much time to ride or walk, but a short one can be just what the doctor ordered.