With the first day of school lingering in the not-so-distant future, you’re probably feeling both excited and overwhelmed, especially with COVID-19 casting doubt on just what school will look like for most students and families this year. From creating healthy sleep habits and establishing a good morning routine to handling back-to-school anxiety and learning how to make communication more manageable, we’ve got 10 general back to school tips and tricks for parents to help make this school year a good one for your family!
1.) Make a Countdown
Using a calendar, paper chain or whiteboard, start a countdown a couple weeks before school. With this countdown ease into their school routine with bedtime, setting out their clothes for the next day and when they’ll be waking up. It’ll be hard to stick to those routines while wanting to get in as much fun as you can, but it will help the transition immensely for you and your kids if you start early.
2.) Keep an Affirming and Positive Attitude
You know that your child will reap the benefits of going to school. Try to keep any anxiety or stress you may have from showing to your child.
3.) Visit the School (If you are allowed)
This is a great practice for young kids starting preschool or Kindergarten. It is equally great for children entering a new school. Map out their classes and let them try out their locker. Park where they will park and walk in, making their first day of school more familiar.
4.) Perfect Your Morning Routine
Routine is the key word here. It may take a few weeks or even months to figure out the perfect routine for your family, but once you’ve got it, stick with it. Write it out or discuss it with your kids to let them know how you’d like to see the morning go. Have them help you figure out what works best for them.
5.) Even Better, Have a Great Evening Routine
Although morning routines help with the ease into a new day, setting up an evening routine can make that morning routine breeze by. Again, see what works best for your family. Maybe make a chart or an evening routine clock that shows what things they need to accomplish before lights out. Do as much as you can the night before so the next morning is simple (set out clothes, make lunches, look at the week ahead etc.)
6.) Go School Shopping
Head to the store for their favorite foods in their packed lunch. Purchase the necessary school supplies or even a new First Day outfit. Get haircuts. Having a day with them to prepare for the new year ahead will let your kids know you want to make this as easy and as fun as possible for them.
Talk to your child about homework rules and where they should put papers that need to be looked at or signed. Have enough space for each child’s backpack, shoes, water bottles or anything else they will be carrying home from school so there is no frustration in the morning to find these items. Make sure they know it’s their space and their responsibility to keep their items there.
8.) Make a School Calendar
Add all of the holidays and school info and hang it where your child can see it. If they join a club or sport, have them write in their games or practice dates and times to let them have a little responsibility over knowing when their time is scheduled. If you have a younger child, use stickers to let them know which days they have games or practices. Starting this habit of letting them schedule their time will help them decide what is too much on their plate.
9.) Listen and Be Present
As tempting as it is to tell our kids they have nothing to worry about as a way to distract them, sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is to simply listen. If your child is finding school stressful, allow him or her to put their feelings into words so you can figure out exactly what is bothering them and (hopefully) find a solution to their worries. Spend 5 to 10 minutes connecting with each child in the morning or evening routine, with your phone put away. Talk about who they’re excited to see or what they’re going to do at recess. If they are nervous for the week ahead, brainstorm a family activity for the weekend.
10.) Outsource Your Time
Know that it’s okay to ask for help. Figure out what is taking up a lot of your time, therefore, keeping you from your family. Is there a way to pay to have it done by someone else? Hire a cleaning service, utilize grocery pick up or delivery, make crock-pot meals, carpool with other parents for practices. There are many ways to simplify if you are able to step back and see what needs to be adjusted.