It’s that time of year again… Time to put away the beach blankets and get out the lunch boxes. Summer coming to end can be a sad time for children and families, but returning to school can also be a time of excitement. Some children dread returning to school, but most find it to be a positive experience. We can help set the tone for our children by talking about the new school year with enthusiasm and conviction that it will be a great year. We can also point out the special things to come, such as seeing old friends again and making new ones, extra-curricular activities and sports starting back up, and learning new things. Children often relish the idea of being older and more mature, and starting a new grade at school can provide them with new opportunities that they never had before, such as getting to take elective classes, riding the bus on their own, or going on special field trips.
As the start of the school year approaches, it is a good idea to start settling back into routines so that your children will have time for adjustment. Bed times and wake up times should be resumed, and late- night TV or computer time should be discouraged. Have your children start to think about what they will need for school. Talk about the school day routine so that they will know what to expect, and have them practice new routines and responsibilities. For example, if your child will be making his or her own lunch this year, discuss with them what foods they would like to have, as well as how to make nutritious choices. Some children benefit from visiting their new school or classroom, which can often be arranged by contacting the school administration.
Once school has started, keeping routines consistent is immensely helpful. This allows the whole family to operate more smoothly on a predictable schedule. Having your children keep their school materials organized is also helpful, such as having a dedicated space in the home for doing homework, where they can easily access materials such as paper, pencils, etc. Doing homework at the same time every day and in the same space can help to avoid battles over getting homework done.
As we say goodbye to summer, we also look forward to the seasons ahead. We can share with our children our excitement about upcoming holidays and vacations. And we can make weekends extra special by doing fun family activities together. Time really does fly, and soon enough we’ll be taking those beach blankets back out again.