It is once again that dreaded time of year... no it is not tax season...it is back to school season. It is time to put away the out door furniture, put the beach chairs in storage and get organized for the upcoming school year.
Of course summer, like all good things, must come to an end. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Our kids need to get down to business and focus on the task of learning and developing work ethics. Life is not all fun and games and the sooner that children learn there is a time to play and a time to work hard the better.
So, we all agree that that school is good and we don't want our kids to become fun loving party animals but instead effective human beings. Unfortunately awareness and belief in the fundamental truth that kids need to go to school does little to ease the blow of transition from play to school mode. What will make the back to school period less stressful and chaotic is implementing a few of the parenting tactics below:
Begin to add more structure to the day for the week or 2 leading up to the first day of school. If you are driving a car at 70 miles and hour, it is best to not slam on the breaks but instead to slowly come to a stop.
Tighten up bed time routines and wake your kids up at a time near when they will need to wake for school. Sleep hygiene is critical for all of us. Parents need to get a good night of sleep just as badly as their children. ( So, for me, I am going to have to break my bad summer time habit of Real House Wives marathons once the kids are sleeping soundly in their beds).
Schedule some family reading and learning moments, where all family members practice "putting their thinking caps on" for a few minutes and exercise their brain muscle. Explain to them that just like they need lots of exercise and good nutrition to be healthy, they also have to feed their brain yummy snacks of interesting information and new knowledge.
Talk to your kids about any positive back-to-school memories that you have and try to foster a sense of excitement about what is to come and all the magic of learning that they will experience.
Each child reacts to returning to school differently. Some will have a smooth and uneventful return while others will experience some bumps in the "back to school" road. It is impossible to predict with perfect accuracy what challenges your children may or may not have. But if you know your kids are slow to warm up and struggle with transitions, it is fair to assume the beginning of anything will be a bit rocky. The good news is, sooner rather than later, your child will get comfortable with their new routine and open up to the experience.
If your child is struggling excessively with returning to school and exhibiting symptoms such as refusing to get dressed or refusing to leave their room or claiming to be sick and experiencing stomach aches and headaches that can't be medically diagnosed, it may be helpful to contact a mental health professional who can be of assistance in setting your child up for a successful school year.