ParentingGet Ready for Back to School

Get Ready for Back to School

Depending upon the age—and state-of-mind!—of your kids, getting ready for back to school can be as easy as 1-2-3…or a challenging as Calculus 12! Here are a few suggestions, for various ages, stages and levels of enthusiasm! Take advantage of what’s left of summer to plan a gradual “re-entry” into the new school year.

Encourage summer reading.

As the new school year approaches, ask your local librarian to recommend books for back to school. That way, not only is your child reading, but they’re reading about what to expect in the fall. This is also a great way to inspire discussion which, in turn, can help to alleviate any anxiety. “For preschoolers, talk about how we read from the front of the book to the back,” says Jessica Powell, Early Childhood Educator (ECE) at Le Petit Hibou preschool in Kelowna. “Track the words while you read out loud to kids,” she adds, which can encourage kids to follow your finger as you underline the words.

Encourage physical activity.

Always a good idea no matter what time of year, being physically active can take the form of a trial run, er, walk to school—or bike ride the route instead. While you’re there, play on the school playground to get familiar with what it’ll be like at recess and before-and-after-school play times.

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Gradually adjust your child’s sleep schedule to match the school routine.

Sure, we’ve all heard this one before, but going to bed a little earlier each night toward the end of August and the beginning of September will make the transition go smoothly. Even if you have to read more bedtime stories, just getting kids into bed earlier is a step in the right direction.

Establish a routine.

Kids haven’t had a bath in weeks? Or gotten up and out the door before 8am for just about as long? Now’s the time to try for a regular lunchtime, a more regular bath time and a more consistent bedtime (see above!). “A few weeks before school starts, work on routine,” says Powell.

Create a designated study area.

And let your kids be the guide when it comes to how they want to arrange and outfit their study area. Form and function matter here so let kids have fun designing their space—and ensure they have what they need within reach to get their homework done.

Go school supply shopping together.

Even if your child’s school charges a flat fee and provides school supplies for all, let kids choose a few extras—a special pencil case, maybe, or a new backpack—that not only help them get ready for back to school, but excited about it too!

Attend orientation sessions and/or open house events.

One way to get familiar with and excited about the new school year is to go to any welcome events and open houses before school starts. This can be a chance to tour the school and meet teachers before the potentially stressful first day back.

Foster independence.

“Help make your kids self-sufficient,” says Powell. “Work on basic skills like putting on shoes—not even tying them up, just putting them on!” That way, things like “spaghetti feet”—when kids wait limply for an adult to put on their shoes—are less likely. Teach them how to climb onto a toilet, pull their own pants down, put their jackets on—”…or even just their arms in the armholes!”— when they go outside.

Get social.

Expose young kids to playgroups or schedule playdates to help them get used to turn-taking and sharing. Work on social skills. Plan a gathering with families whose kids are in the same grade and attending the same school.

Stay positive and excited.

Talk about what they’ll be doing at school, what a typical day might look like, all of the things they’ll learn. Listen to any anxieties or fears and reassure them that you’ll help them navigate anything they need help making their way through.

Work on goodbyes.

If saying goodbye is an issue, consider sending something with your child to school. Powell recommends sending a “lipstick kiss” (a lipstick kiss on paper, kept in your child’s backpack or pocket) or something cuddly from home as a comfort if they miss you. Let them know when you’ll be back—after Circle Time, for example, suggests Powell. Even though young kids might not understand a length of time, like in two hours, they can use school activities as a gauge to know when you’ll return.

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