How to get ready to go back to school
Susanna Block, MD, Kaiser Permanente
Summer is wrapping up and it is time to get back into the school routine. Back to school is always exciting but it does mean changes in sleep pattern, organization and conquering first day of school nerves. Here are some tips to help you start the school year right.
First day nerves
Some children are anxious about the first day of school. This can be because of schedule changes, new teachers or starting a new school. Remind kids that many children are nervous on the first day of school and the are not alone. Teachers know this and are there to help.
Helping your child get refamiliarized with the school can also reduce first day of school nerves. For elementary school students, consider a playdate on the school playground in the weeks before school starts. You can also call the school and meet with school staff 1-2 weeks prior to the start of school. Planning something fun such as having a friend to walk to school with or ride the bus with can help. Planning a special treat after school is also always helpful. Avoid playdates or big activities after school on the first day. Many kids are tired and benefit from some scheduled down time.
Starting a new schools and incoming kindergartners: Schools typically have new student orientations. It is important to attend these. Often, there are neet up groups or playdates so kids can get to know each other prior to the first day. This is a great way to make friends before school starts.
It can be a challenge to get back into the school year sleep routine. I recommend returning to the school bedtime routine 1 week before school starts. Many people like to change bedtime 15 min earlier each night until you are at the ideal school bedtime. The most important thing is consistency and routine. Reestablish bedtime rituals. Every family is different but including bath, story time can be helpful. Make sure the room is dark and electronics are out of the bedroom. Some children may need a small snack before bedtime. You can also leave a water bottle at the bedside. This helps decrease the number of “one last things”.
Sometimes half of the battle is getting out of the door. Consider these tips to make the morning rush better.
- Have your child lay out their clothing the night before. Some kids have strong feelings about what they want to wear and this is their chance to make their fashion debut. As long as it is reasonable this is a great way to give kids some autonomy.
- Prepack lunches
- Review what is in the backpack
- Morning “safety pause” or check list on the door. It works in the operating room and it really is good habit in the morning. Learning how to organize and prepare for the day is a great skill.
- Lunch and snack
- Homework and folder in backpack
- Water bottle
- Brush hair
- Brush teeth
- Who is picking you up, where and are there any special after school activities
- Underwear (kids love it when you get to this)
Positive Framing is a great tool to teach kids. Focusing on the positive aspects of school can go a long way in helping children jump back into school life. Reminding them of seeing friends again, resuming afterschool activities can turn going back to school into a glass half full experience.