The last days of summer often call us to the pool or the porch, enticing us to drink in fleeting moments of warm weather and outdoor activity. School days seem far in the future – until the shopping begins and that first early morning is unexpectedly upon us.
For school aged children who have become accustomed to sleeping in and staying up late, snacking between fun activities and exciting day trips, and living casually without much of a schedule, the abrupt return to school can be jarring. Parents need to begin planning well in advance to ease the back to school transition.
Above all, parents need to begin about a month out from the first day of school making sure their children are getting enough rest. If possible, parents should slowly start to pull back on exciting activities like trips to amusement parks, camping, weekend trips and vacations, allowing children to spend more time around the home and neighborhood engaged in more day-to-day happenings.
Next, parents should decide on a regular bedtime for school months, and, in small intervals of ten or 15 minutes, ease children into that new schedule. This tactic will no doubt generate a number of complaints, particularly if friends’ parents are not implementing a similar system, but will be invaluable when school begins.
Summer often brings something of an abbreviated meal schedule to families. Breakfast is late or skipped altogether, and lunch can happen almost anytime. Dinners are often eaten out, at gatherings or picnics, or delayed until everyone is home from the day’s activities. Additionally, there are often more and less healthy snacks in the summertime, including spontaneous stops for ice cream and treats at the pool or fair. Parents should start working to establish a scheduled time for breakfast, re-acclimating children to the importance of this meal. If children will be eating lunch in school at similar times, parents can begin serving the mid-day meal then. Also, activities and outings should now be scheduled around dinner, instead of dinner around happenings.
For parents who’ve become lax in reading and learning with their children over the summer months, gear up for class work about a month out from the first day of school. Start by engaging your children more in deeper discussions about their experiences. For instance, after a movie, parents can ask children about the film, and discuss the plot to see if they comprehended what they saw. Moms and dads should encourage older students to read, be it books, magazines or newspapers. Parents should read along with younger children, helping to jog their memories on sight words, vocabulary and sentence structure. Finally, parents should find ways to work math into the day and look for opportunities to talk about scientific principles.
Lastly, parents should consider their children’s school day schedules during the first few weeks of transition. If children seem overly tired, or are unable to complete home assignments and responsibilities, it may be time to cut back on or reschedule after school and weekend activities.