Faster than you can say melting ice cream by the pool, school will be back in session for Western New York students. Transitioning back to a school schedule can be a very challenging task, even for the most organized parent (for the record I do not claim to be). Fortunately, there is always expert advice. In her article “Countdown to School-Ready,” Dr. Laura Markham shares this week’s parenting secrets, with her useful tips for getting children ready for school. Here are a few of my favorites.
One very important thing for parents to start doing now, if they haven’t already, is get your child to bed earlier. In this household, bedtime has fluctuated throughout the summer, often to accommodate special events. We have been enforcing school bed times as much as possible in the last week. It is important for children to get between 9.5 hours sleep and 11 hours sleep to function at maximum capacity. Start having your child go to bed a little earlier each night, so you a reach school bedtime, well before the night before school starts.
Another suggestion is to tour the school. Whether your child is going to kindergarten or moving up into the junior high school, having a sense of where you are going a head of time can be an immense relief and stress reducer. Along these same lines, if it is possible for your child to meet her teacher ahead of time, this truly helps!
Dr. Markham suggests preparing your child emotionally for what is going to occur. She describes how a parent can “walk” a child through her day, by describing what will occur; when hellos and goodbyes will be said; who will pick your child up, etc. She suggests developing a rhyme, song, or routine around it. One book that many parents have used for just this purpose is Audrey Penn’s “The Kissing Hand“.
Some of her other great ideas include involving them in back to school supply shopping, whether it be in your home or at a store. This helps your child mentally prepare and get excited for what’s to come. Lastly, I just love her idea for a celebratory end of summer dinner for the family. With this, parents can help their children recount their favorite moments of summer. She goes with rounds of appreciations and “I look forward to …. What a great way to mark what’s been; transition into the school routine; and set a positive tone for the year ahead!