Times of transition aren’t easy, but if you’ve prepared properly, they can be a breeze. Children, especially, have a hard time when boundaries and bedtimes are suddenly more strictly enforced.
There are several ways to adequately prepare your family for the new school year. Embrace the new year and all it has to offer by establishing yourself and your attitude as an example for your children. If you do, going back to school doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience, but something that is fun and exciting for the whole family.
Ready, Set, Go!
Hopefully, you kept some routines in place throughout the summer for an easier time when school arrives. If not, don’t worry. Early rising may be a lot to ask with your children, but gradually establishing an earlier bedtime can make it easier when the time comes. If this is out of the question with the late sunsets, at least have your kids get into bed earlier and make a habit of partaking in quiet and calm activities such as reading or puzzles.
It is best to stick to the same schedules for sleeping and waking. Have your kids, and yourself, get into the habit of preparing meals and outfits for the coming day the night before. This preparedness reduces anxiety and leaves more time for fun activities.
As a parent, you must reinforce established patterns. Going back to school is like riding a bike, once you do it—the muscle memory comes back easily. Kids are used to the school flow once the transitional first weeks are over. It may be the parents that have the harder time. After all, it is more work for the adults with the preparations and schedules. Make sure your kids are ready emotionally for the change. Talk about the excitement of the new year to come. The worst thing you can do is ignore the shift in the schedule.
Mud Pies and BBQs
Let the wind blow through their hair—it is still summer, after all. The 20 minutes of recess barely equates to the outdoor experiences kids have all summer long. When school resumes, encourage outdoor activities while the weather is still nice. Plan a weekend family camping trip a few weeks after school starts. Kids and parents alike love the freedom of summer. Give everyone something to look forward to before the full swing of school days really takes over.
The summer-to-fall transition is especially rough if you or your children have to say goodbye to friends you rarely see. Incorporate social experiences into the school year during nights and weekends. A laidback BBQ with friends or even a quick meal at a restaurant can make the summer vibes last all year.
It’s All a Mindset
The perspective you take of a situation determines your feelings towards it. You are the greatest example for your children, and how you feel about a situation often determines how they’ll feel. Positivity can be a beacon of hope in times of tough transitions. Make the transitional time fun to avoid negativity and anxiety. Shopping for clothes and school supplies are fun rituals your kids enjoy that can make the end of summer feel like an exciting time.
Remember, your children are always watching you. Your language choice is particularly noted by young developing ears. Positive talk towards others as well as yourself is important for your children to hear. The last thing you want is to raise a bully or have your kids develop low self-esteem.
How do you keep your kids on track for an easy transition to school days? The answer is up to you and your family’s specific needs. Set a strong and positive example for your children, and develop a healthy perspective in times of transition and change. Going back to school presents a myriad of opportunities and excitement.
The best approach is to look at it as a fresh chapter to your favorite book.
Vinay Saranga is a child psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry