Preparing your Child for the New School Year8 min read
Back to school can be a time of both excitement as well as nervousness for what the new year has in store. Kids either cannot wait to go back and meet their buddies after a long break, or dread whatever is going to be thrown at them as they advance a grade.
Likewise, parents are either waiting in anticipation to send their kids back to school or shudder at the thought of the flustering school routines returning.
Irrespective of whichever side of the spectrum you and your kids are on, the coming of the new school year is basically inevitable so the best way to face it is to simply be well-prepared for it!
Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:
1. Gradually adjust your child’s schedule and put routines in place
Kids are usually used to staying up late during the vacation and getting up late as well. But as school time approaches your child will need to be prepared to sleep early and wake up on time. A sudden transition from casual bedtimes just a few days before school begins is probably not the best idea. Easing into the school routine a couple of weeks before school starts is a great way to get your child accustomed to proper schedules.
Sending your child off to bed early at a specific time as well as waking them up around the same time they would need to get up for school is a good practice to follow. This way they will not only find it easy to get up during school but will also have enough sleep that is required for their brain to develop and function in a healthy manner. Similarly, set appropriate mealtimes and serve your child his meals around the same time that he will have them when school starts.
2. Have conversations about what is to come
A helpful thing to do when preparing your child for the new year is to have conversations about how it’s going to be and what exactly she can expect. Discuss your child’s hopes, ambitions and expectations from the coming academic year and help her to put some goals in place. Reflecting on the previous year will also help to think of specific goals that your child may want to achieve this year. Maybe she would want to do things a little differently from last year or put more effort into the tasks she takes on.
Reviewing the new school year and the first day will also help your child to feel more prepared and confident to take on new challenges. Discussing how she will get to school and back, how long school will be, what differences might come into place and so on will help to ease the back-to-school jitters.
3. Aid your child’s relationship with the teacher
As kids begin school, they need to learn to adapt to the new environment. Feeling secure and trusting their teachers, especially if they’re going to have new ones is a big part of it. A child will be able to focus well and learn in class when he knows that he can trust the authority figures around him.
You can take your child to meet with his teacher before school begins. Having a little chat with his teacher about the new school year will help your child to feel better as he gets acquainted with her. If this is not possible, then talking to your child about his teacher might also help. Tell him that his teachers are there to guide him with every little difficulty that he might face. You can also encourage your child to write a nice note or make a drawing for his teacher on the first day of school. If you notice that your child isn’t really comfortable even after a few weeks of school, then maybe consider calling up the teacher and letting her know that you would appreciate her making a little more personal effort to help him settle in. Any teacher would be more than willing to help her students.
4. Encourage your child to bond with new kids and rekindle old friendships
Children can begin to really look forward to going to school when they know that their friends are going to be there too. So, talk to your child about making new friends once school starts. Assure her that she does not have to be everyone’s friend but that she can definitely put in a little extra effort to make one or two new ones. Encourage your child to bond with children in the neighborhood. She might just find a buddy to keep her company on the first day of school!
If your child has friends from the previous school year, then maybe invite them over for a playdate or a meal. As your child works on her friendships she won’t feel alone once school begins.
5. Make sure your child doesn’t lose touch with his academics
Most kids completely forget about any studies during the vacation, and for good reason. Nobody likes to study on a holiday! However, as a parent you need to make sure that your child does not completely lose track of everything he learnt in school the previous year. You don’t have to force him to study every single day, but getting your child into the habit of reading a few books or revising a few math problems once in a while is not such a bad idea.
If your child has holiday homework, don’t let him leave it in a corner and remember about it one night before school begins. Encourage your child to work on a little bit every few days so that when it’s time to go back to school, he has no pending last minute work left to complete.
6. Make back-to-school prep fun and exciting
If you see your child moping around about how she hates that school is going to start, make an effort to change that. You can have conversations about how fun school is going to be because she will meet her old friends and make new ones, she gets to learn more about a topic that interested her last year and so on. You could also take your child shopping for school supplies and clothes. Let her pick out what she likes and help her to arrange her bag. This way your child will be keener and more excited to use what she has picked out.
7. Clean down for school
As the new school year approaches, work with your child to clean down your house and get it ready for school. Your kids can put away old clothes, books and toys that they have outgrown. They can clean the clutter off their study tables to make room for new school material. If your child doesn’t have a study table, help him to decide on a place to study and do his homework; a place that is preferably well-lit and free from distractions. You can also organize an easily accessible area for snacks and after-school food.
8. Prepare your child to say goodbye
Not every child finds it easy to say goodbye to their parents and head off for school. If you know that your child struggles with separation and can get clingy or teary, start preparing her for it beforehand. Establish a parting tradition of saying goodbye with a hug and an ‘I love you and I can’t wait to see you soon!’. You can also give your child a token – a favorite toy, book or a small item that brings back some good family memories – to help her feel connected to you in school. You could also give your child a small family photo and write a note for her to read. Make sure your child knows that she is in safe hands on the bus and/or in school.
9. Be available
Most importantly, as a parent all you need to really do is just be there for your child. Whether he wants to talk about his worries, or rant about his day, or complain about a friend or teacher being mean, just be available to listen to your child. Pay attention to what worries your child and look out for signs of deeper issues (like bullying and so on).
Reassure your child that you are always there for him and he can come to you with any worries at any time. Show your child extra love and affection as the time to go back to school comes closer, and continue it even after school begins. Be your child’s biggest cheerleader and make sure he knows that he always has a friend in you.
Some children look forward to school with lots of joyful anticipation while others just can’t shake the feeling of dread as the time to go back comes closer. Whatever your child feels towards school, by using these tips and taking the time to prepare them for the new school year, you will be able to smoothen the transition from lazy days at home to more rigorous and activity-filled days in school.