A Back-to-School Checklist for Parents
Summer is nearly over and it will be time for the kids to go back to school soon! You may be overjoyed at the thought of your children returning to school, but you may also dread the inevitable meltdowns that occur when the kids have to adjust to going to bed and waking earlier and completing their homework each night. The kids have gotten used to staying up later, sleeping in, and having more freedom to choose their activities over the summer so getting them back into a routine can be difficult, so here are some tips:
1 .) During the initial transition, give your kids a break and extend some compassion and understanding. Think of how hard it is for you to return to work after a short vacation. Summer is essentially a 2-month vacation for your kids!
2 .) Even though summer break is over, continue to plan fun activities with your kids. Schedule fun outings on the weekends and/or plan a fun activity to do on a weeknight.
3 .) Incorporate some academic games, science projects, or story writing activities each week to prepare your child’s mind for the long school days. These activities can be fun and entertaining while also developing their interest for learning.
4 .) Children need more sleep than adults and are more adversely affected by insufficient sleep. If you haven’t been keeping your kids on a bedtime routine that is similar to their school year bedtime, start now! Gradually move their bedtime up 10-15 minutes every night and start waking them up 10-15 minutes earlier until you’ve reached appropriate times.
5 .) Start eating breakfast every morning. Hungry children have a hard time focusing and retaining information at school. Healthy breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar are your best bet.
6 .) If you have a difficult time getting your children dressed and ready to hit the door, making a list with their morning tasks may help! If they complete each task, give them a check mark or sticker next to that task. If they complete 75% of the tasks for the day, they get a small reward (i.e. quarter/dollar, TV/electronic time). If they complete their tasks 3 out of 5 school days, reward them with a larger incentive on the weekend (i.e. trip to the movies, dollar store, small toy). It’s very important that parents stay consistent while using this type of behavior chart. If the child does not complete the tasks, they should not be rewarded and more importantly, if the child does complete the tasks, they should get rewarded to encourage appropriate behavior in the future.
7 .) A new school year is often filled with a lot of anxiety inducing as kids navigate new classes, teachers and classmates and possibly new schools. It’s very important to help your children cope with their anxieties. Usually a simple conversation is helpful and dinnertime is great time to check in with the kids. Many parents also find that therapy is a great tool to help during times of adjustment. It provides kids a place to explore their feelings, while getting additional support outside their families.
By: Afton Murphy, MA, APC