It’s that time of year. Summer camp is wrapping up. Mechanical pencils, notebooks, and binders are flying off the Staples shelves. A few more beach vacations are squeezed in for good measure. It’s almost time for the dreaded “s” word. School. For some parents, having the kids out of the house is a relief. For others, their empty nester fears begin to creep in like a fog at daybreak. As the school year approaches, both parent and child may experience similar feelings of anxiety. Keep calm! Everything will be okay. Children can easily pick up your mood and sense if anything is wrong. If you’re stressed, they may become stressed, too. Be confident and optimistic, and your children will follow in tow.
As for many things in life, prepare! When summer begins to wind down, start implementing an earlier bedtime schedule. We all know the effects of the lack of sleep. Grouchy, grumpy, and glum. As adults, we can most likely cope with a lack of sleep (still not healthy, though!), but kids cannot. They need at least 10 hours of sleep to function at their best. Teachers can tell which students have had a good night’s sleep or not by the students’ energy or lack of. It sounds impossible, I know, but the earlier you start practicing the bedtime schedule, the easier it will be when school is in session. By no means should your children be given caffeinated products as a method of waking up. They should also avoid sugar in the morning. Children will crash around 10 AM becoming lethargic and irritable.
Take your children shopping for new school clothes and possibly a new backpack if needed. This goes hand in hand with their confidence! Back to school shopping can also get them excited for the start of school. I wore a uniform in grade school, so my shoes and hair accessories were my forms of self-expression.
Depending on your children’s ages, you can practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills with flash cards or even just scratch paper. I know there are some great math games online as well. All summer your children should be reading books to keep their reading sharp. If your children haven’t been reading during the summer, they may be in danger of their reading abilities declining. Practicing math and reading should give your kids great confidence going into the school year.
Make sure your kids are not rushing in the morning. Have them lay out their outfit for the following day the night before and their backpack filled and ready to go. Make their favorite nutritious breakfast for the first day of school, and make sure they get up early enough to eat without rushing. They can eventually learn to make a safe breakfast for themselves but treat them on the first day. Pack them a nutritious lunch and add a note of encouragement or love in their lunch box. They should also have some type of midday snack such as nuts or fresh fruit. My personal favorite snack as a child was a hard-boiled egg. The kindergarten aid always helped me peel it because I couldn’t do it without destroying the whole egg. The other kids would wrinkle their noses or make a face at me, but Starbucks sells packaged hard-boiled eggs now, so take that, kids. Healthy is cool.
If you have room, your house should have a designated area for students to drop off their backpacks and shoes. One of the worst sights is a trail of hats, jackets, backpacks, and sometimes even mud. Teach your kids tidiness and responsibility by having a place for all their stuff to “land.” Place a cute welcome mat at the door. Customize their cubbies with name plates or decals. You can have a white board or chalkboard in the room for them to write a to-do list, inspirational quotes, grocery list, or whatever their hearts desire! Praise your children for a job well done when they put their items in the right place with a hug and a thank you.
Ask your children if they need help with anything before the start of a new school year. Each school year is a considerably big transition for them, so invite your children to voice their concerns and fears. Never ever demean their feelings. Ask what you can do for them. Be considerate, empathetic, and gentle. Prepare, prepare, prepare! You will thank yourself when your preparation pays off in the form of a smooth transition back to school. You are your children’s go-to, their role model. When you show full confidence in them, they will feel it in themselves, too.