As much as no one likes to admit it, summer is quickly winding down. The exciting part is thinking about back to school preparations. While the real fun begins in the classroom, there are some things parents can do to set their children (and themselves) up for success. Read on to find out how you can get ready...
1. Soak up every last drop of summer
Go stargazing. Take a long bike ride. Eat just one more s’more. Find as many ways as you can to enjoy every moment you have left of summer together. Is there anything you talked about doing that you hadn’t gotten around to yet? Do the kids have any fun requests that you can manage before the school year begins? Think day trips, lazy days together at home, projects you want to finish, or even some more leisurely trips to the library. Think about what makes everyone feel happy and content, then do some more of it.
2. Start to adjust bedtimes
Between longer periods of sunlight and looser schedules, staying up late often becomes the norm during summer months. While this works out just fine for that particular part of the year, it doesn’t work well when it’s time to wake up and catch the bus. The first thing you may want to do is revisit how much sleep your child should be getting.
Here are some more tips to get back on track with ease:
- Allow 2-3 weeks for the transition
- Keep things calm for an hour before bedtime
- Slowly shift bedtime earlier by 5-15 minutes each night
- Keep a consistent routine (example: pjs, brush teeth, story, lights out)
- Expect bumps along the road - it’s okay!
3. Gather supplies
Many schools have lists of supplies needed at the beginning of each school year. Check in with your school and keep in mind that different classrooms often have different lists. It takes a lot to keep a classroom running smoothly; when each family chips in, it really helps make the task a little easier for teachers.
Think beyond classroom supplies as well. What will your child need? Do they have a lunchbox that is in good working order? Cloth napkins? Snack containers? A water bottle? What else might they need to start the year off right? It’s important to remember that children don’t need new everything each fall - quality items last for years!
4. Inventory clothing
Kids have a funny habit of growing all the time. The transition between summer and autumn is the perfect opportunity to check and make sure they have enough of the right clothing. Has your child grown a size over the summer? Is the changing weather a factor?
One great way to stay ahead of kids’ clothing needs is to share with others. Because children grow so fast they only wear items for a short period of time. It makes sense to pass outgrown clothing along to siblings or another family who could use it. Hopefully you can find a family who is willing to do the same for you. By sharing hand-me-downs, parents can save time and money, leaving you a little extra to buy your child a nicer pair of shoes or a good warm winter jacket. As a bonus, sharing clothing is also a great environmental choice!
5. Keep reading
Reading to our children every day is so important. Hopefully you’ve been able to enjoy lots of story time all summer long. Don’t let the rush of a new school year end the fun! Aim for at least 20-30 minutes each day. Bedtime tends to be a natural fit, but reading anytime is beneficial. Infants, preschoolers, new readers, and even older children enjoy being read aloud to. Hearing you read sets and example for them regarding the importance of books and literacy, and your voice serves as a great model for oral fluency. Use dramatic expression, create silly voices for characters, and have fun!
Older children should spend time reading each day as well. They can read to themselves, you, a sibling, or even a pet. Practice makes perfect! One helpful tip for new/reluctant readers: try setting a pattern of ‘you read a page (or sentence or paragraph), I read a page’. This gives them the practice they need without it feeling overwhelming.
6. Set goals
Everyone in the family can get on board with this step. Parents: what are your goals? Do you want to find ways to not feel so rushed getting out the door in the morning? Do you want to try out some new meal prep ideas to make the week run more smoothly? Do you want to find opportunities to volunteer at your child’s school this year? Think about what you hope for and break it down into small, measurable, steps.
Talk with your kids about the hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year. What are some things they hope to learn about or accomplish? This might include specific academic skills, but it might also include social goals or even play-based fun. Does your child want to learn how to write their name in cursive? Get across the monkey bars? Make some new friends? Learn more about frogs? It can be fun to have them draw a picture of their goals and write (or have you scribe) what they hope to do. Tuck the paper away in a drawer and take it out again in June. It can be so fun for children to reflect on their own growth!
Think of ways you can support each other with your goals and talk about that.
7. Get excited!
Feel free to hype up the beginning of the school year. Transitions can be hard for kids, but it’s always easier when they’re excited about what’s to come. A new school year brings the promise of fun learning, friendships, and experiences. That’s something we can all look forward to.