After at least eight weeks of sun, beach and fun in the sand, the second half of August comes with mixed feelings of going back to school! August is like the Sunday of summer - some children may want to go back to a routine, see their friends, and meet their teachers, while others may be dreading the idea of waking up early.
There are simple tips parents can follow to help children be emotionally ready to get back to the grind! These tips will not only help children ease in back to a school routine, but it will also help parents with their experiences as well!
1. SLEEP ROUTINE
Prepping the body to return back to an early sleep schedule is not an impossible task, but it does take at least one full week of practice (for both children and adults). Putting/sending a child to bed two to three hours earlier from one night to the next is sure to lead to tantrums, from kids and parents alike! However, beginning the evening routine at least 15 minutes earlier each day for at least a week before school starts can guarantee better success. The same goes for waking up! If used to sleeping in, simply set the alarm for at least 15 minutes earlier each day until the desired wake-up time is achieved with minimal snoozing.
Speaking of routines… sending a child to go to bed without having a routine is like ripping off a band aid – it will hurt, for you and your child! A sample routine can begin with cleaning up play/work space, leaving backpacks by the door, washing up, reading a book, and finally off to dream!
2. THINK OF POSITIVE EXPERIENCES
Going into the unknown (-aka- new classrooms, new teachers, new classmates) can be scary, or at least anxiety provoking. However, with the hopes your child has had at least one positive school year in their back pocket, they can be set up for success by recalling a positive prior year. Parents can guide their kids to recall meaningful teachers and exciting things to look forward to for the new year. Also, be sure to begin the school year with a clean slate; any negative feelings or experiences should be left in the past so a fresh start can increase higher chances of success.
3. SET GOALS
While the majority of people create their yearly goals at the start of the calendar year, it is beneficial for kids to make a habit of creating new goals at the beginning of each academic year. Parents can guide their kids in reflecting on last year’s accomplishments (whether they be personal or academic) and can choose a goal to work towards for the upcoming academic year. Thinking of the endless possibilities can excite kids for the new year and all they can conquer in the grade ahead.
I can still remember the thrill of getting new LAGear sneakers and Lisa Frank folders in preparation for a new school year. Clearly LAGear and Lisa Frank do not compare to the popular brands of today, but the feeling of new clothes or materials is still the same. The start of a new year is a great time to clean out a closet, get new outfits and new a backpack, and impress oneself with the exciting adventures ahead!
Counselor De Jesus
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area. To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.