Here are a few useful tips to prepare your kids, and the whole family, for going back to school.
One week before school:
Adjust your sleep routine in advance: Later bedtimes during the holidays are inevitable, but it’s a good idea to begin slowly adjusting your kids to an earlier bedtime over a week or two before school starts. Adjust bedtime to be earlier by 10 or so minutes every evening so that by the time school starts, they’ve adjusted to that incremental change. Get the whole family up in the mornings so that you’re all getting back into new routines, and your child doesn’t feel alone in the changes. For older children, teach them how to use an alarm clock and let them practice using it.
Encourage healthy eating habits: Good nutrition (as well as sleep!) is vital for strong bodies and minds. If you’re not already, start having meals around regular mealtimes. Ask your child to pick out their favourite nutritious snacks and plan a lunchbox menu for the first week back at school
Create a family calendar: Create a clear family schedule and place in a visible spot for all to see. This will allow everyone to know what’s coming up each week and will assist you in organising the practicalities on a daily level.
Shop for supplies: Allow your child to pick out their new stationery and school bag, to enhance their excitement and sense of ownership of the process. Before buying new clothes, shoes or supplies, do some spring cleaning in your cupboards and see what can be upcycled or re-used!
Chat about anxieties or fears: Touch base often and encourage your child to speak about their worries or anxieties and help them to problem solve. Try role-playing scenarios that might be inducing anxiety. Practice deep and calm breathing with your child and teach them to use this technique any time they start feeling worried.
Create a homework station: Setup a neat and clean, dedicated space when your child can do their homework every day. Having a specific spot can really aid in establishing good routines as well as increasing focus and concentration.
A couple of days before school:
Do a dry run: Drive the route to school or show them on a map the roads that you will take.
Visit the school: If possible, pop in a visit the school and show them where their classroom will be.
Plan the outfit or prepare the uniform: Get the uniform, socks and shoes washed and ready for the first day of school!
Pack the school bag: Let your child help to pack their school bags with all the things that need to go with them.
Choose a special object: For younger children who may be quite nervous about going to school alone, or separating from mom and dad, let them choose a special object, or photo, that reminds them of home and gives them a sense of comfort. Also, pop a reassuring note in their lunchbox which will be a lovely, warm surprise for them in the middle of the day!
No matter what age, many kids may experience some nerves before going back to school and especially starting a new grade or a new school. Most of all, praise and reward them for their courage and bravery!