Monday, August 31, 2009

Easing the back-to-school blues

Whether your child is changing schools, starting school for the first time, or returning to the same school they went to last year, the transition from summer to school year can bring on the back-to-school blues -- for you as well as your child. At Work It, Mom!, I'm offering up a few tips for easing the transition; read the whole list there, or look below for the highlights:

“Parents need to begin transitioning children into the back-to-school routine early enough so they have time to adjust — mentally and physically,” says Laura Olson, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care education franchisor.

Get children excited. Talk about all the great things they'll be learning this school year, and all of the new things they'll be able to do now that they're another year older.

Let kids be involved in back-to-school shopping. Sure, it's easier -- and faster -- if you pick up all the school supplies by yourself, but letting kids cross off items from their lists as they fill the cart will keep them involved and excited about the process.

Play school. Set up a study station at home, and play school with your children -- but let them be the teacher, while you play the role of the student. As they "teach" you a thing or two, ask them how they feel about starting school, and find out what concerns they may have. Answering questions from a position of authority -- even if it's just pretend -- may make children more confident about voicing their fears.

Practice new routines at home. Will kids be going to be earlier once school starts? Don't wait until the night before to start the new bedtime routine. (Remember: Young kids need their sleep in order to function in the classroom.).

Establish a routine for yourself. It's better to discover that you need more time in the mornings before you actually need more time in the mornings.

Make sure kids understand their new schedules. That goes for at school and at home! Older kids may find a day planner useful for keeping track of classes and homework assignments; younger kids may need a little more assistance. Try a visual aid or a school-related version of a chore chart to make things more manageable.

Attend back-to-school activities. They're a great way to familiarize kids with their schools and teachers, and for you to get a better feel for what they'll be doing in the classroom.

Ward off after-school meltdowns. Stock up on healthy snacks -- a tired kid with low blood sugar is an explosion waiting to happen. Schedule some down time, so kids can blow off steam before settling down to do homework.

Learn how to handle homework. Breaking the nightly assignments down into manageable steps can help your child avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Do you have tips for easing the back-to-school transition? Readers whose children are already back to school, what worked well for you this year? Please share your advice in the comments!


Daisy said...

All good tips. I have always taken my kids with me to shop for their school supplies - after taking inventory at home so we didn't overspend. My "kids" are now 22 and 17, and I like to think that helped get them thinking frugal, too.

LMAlphonse said...

Taking inventory at home first is an excellent tip! Thanks, Daisy!

Cindy said...

Hey Lylah, I'm looking back on first day of school stuff- having just shipped my youngest off to Ireland for her fall semester of college. Aurgh.

The one thing I did with the girls every year was bring them in to meet the teacher and see the room a day or two before school started. That took away the mystery and gave them a little more of a sense of control.

These days my suggestions now are all geared to how to handle kissing your college kids goodbye and preparing YOURSELF for the empty nest.

(Loved your '20/20' observations too... if only...)