By Clair Mellenthin, LCSW
Most of us parents are finding ourselves in two different camps right now. The first camp is the “Holy cow! How did summer fly by so quickly” group of parents who are in the rush of planning the last hurrahs of the summer before school starts again. The second camp is the “Can school start any sooner please ?!?!” group and have had the paper chain that you used to use to count down for Christmas hung up in your kitchen counting down the days for school to start for the last month.
Regardless of which camp you find yourself in right now, the end of summer is upon us and it is time to start thinking “How can I prepare my kids (and me) to get back in the school mode?” after the long summer break of late nights and late sleeping in schedules that happen during the summer for most of us.
Here are some useful tips that parents can use to get this process rolling:
- Two weeks before school starts, start a school-time bedtime routine. This means a little earlier bedtime, less TV watching, and starting to review ABC’s for younger school-age children and spelling and individual math levels. This is also a great time to begin reading together at nighttime, as kids of all ages enjoy the quiet togetherness that this brings.
- Throughout the rest of the summer, keep your kids’ minds and bodies active. Not all kids need or want to be in summer school but it is important that their minds stay stimulated throughout the summer by learning new skills, activities, or enjoying being outside and exploring their environment.
- Keep school fun. If the emphasis is always on what grades are achieved instead of what your child learns and grows from, they will learn to resent school and you! School needs to be about learning and the joy that can be had in learning new things, not only about the grades that are received.
It is normal as your begin to change things around to prepare for the school year, that there will be some resistance (by everyone) but it is important to start this process sooner rather than later, as it will decrease everyone’s anxiety and stress as the school year begins.
Time to Talk
It is important to check-in frequently with your children about how they are feeling about school starting again. Some may be feeling nervous and scared to have a new teacher and a new schedule. Others may be very excited and looking forward to the start. Most will fall somewhere in-between. By keeping an open dialogue with your children about how they are feeling, they can learn to trust you as a parent with their feelings and know that they can come to you for the small things and later, for the much bigger things that our kids will face. If you can have a home where all feelings are acceptable and where the expression of your feelings can be open and appropriate, children will thrive and gain the confidence and trust they need to be successful not only in this school year, but the years to come.