The new school year is fast approaching, and the sunlit days are growing a little shorter. It’s time to transition from summer to the more structured schedule of fall. There are still a lot of unknowns this school year, so it will helpful for kids to feel as ready as they can. When we leave this shift until the last minute, the change can be difficult for both kids and adults and anticipatory excitement can become overwhelming stress. In order to create as smooth a transition as possible to this new school year, consider some of the following:
- Fully experience the joy of what is left of summer: At a family meeting, ask your children what you could do all together with the remaining free days that would complete their sense of a summer well spent. A trip to the community pool or the beach? A picnic at a local park? Going together for ice-cream? A drive-in movie? Playing in a local water fountain? A day of biking? Get the co-created plan on the calendar and make sure it happens.
- With your children, create a transition plan for bedtimes and wake times: One of the hardest transitions is getting back into a new sleep routine. To ease into this change, plot a slow shift over the week or two before school starts, working together with your kids to put the times on the calendar. This would be a time to ask your children how they plan to get up on time. Will they use a clock alarm? Will they ask you to be a part of the routine? Decide this ahead and practice. It is also a time to begin to limit screen time before bed and to determine where hand-held devices will be stored overnight.
- Visit the school website: What is the news about how the school is dealing with COVID? What are the new bus routes? Are there new hours? Where is the school supplies list for each classroom? Knowing these basics will allow you to feel more settled and prepared.
- Get supplies: Bring the kids with you. If they can read, they can bring the list and a pen to cross off what you have collected. Find masks that they are comfortable for them.
- Set up study spaces: Where will each sibling do their homework? Enlist your children to help set up these spaces. Ask them what they think is missing and what they may need. Ask your kids to be sure that the areas have the necessary materials and e ready for learning. .
- Read books to help prepare kids mentally for the new year: Here are some great books that will help kids get in gear for their exciting new year.
- Do an transition activity together: This art activity is designed to help kids process changes.
- Be a listening ear: Ask your children how they are feeling about the upcoming year. Validate their fears and concerns and ask them what you can do together to ameliorate them. Share positivity and optimism about the possibilities this year holds.
With a bit of preparation, you can ease the shift into the school year for both you and your kids. Good luck!