By Interactive Metronome, Bricole Reincke - January 1, 2015
Back to School
Well, everyone’s winter break is almost over and kids are heading back to school. While the time away is much shorter than the summer break, children often face many of the same problems after being out of school for just a few days. This can be especially true if children took a break from their usual sleeping schedule, mealtimes or activities like reading, math and science. So, how do you get your little ones back on track for success when the school year begins anew? We’ve got some great tips to make the transition into 2015 as easy as possible.
We are big on routine. We talked about it a lot in our holiday ebook, and with good reason. Keeping kids on a schedule can make all of the other changes around them much easier to handle. It can be hard for you to return to work after a long weekend; now imagine how hard it might be for a child to start off the new year with new teachers and classmates, all while being expected to slide right back into their routine after almost a month away from school.
That sounds like a nightmare! Remember that this time can be hard for young children, especially those with developmental disorders or learning disabilities that make school even more challenging. So, here are some tips for keeping kids on schedule.
· If you got out of your bedtime routine, start going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier every night until you are back on schedule. The same is true for the morning; wake up 15-30 minutes earlier each day if you have been sleeping in.
· As your sleeping schedule returns to normal, so too should meals. Start having breakfast at your usual time, match your lunchtime with the school’s and move dinner back to its usual post-work time slot.
· Family time that was once devoted to parties and games may have to give way to homework, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t add a little fun. Spending time together doing homework keeps adult minds sharp and helps younger ones stay motivated.
· Plan outfits and pack backpacks during your child’s bedtime routine to keep them on schedule and ready to hit the ground running each morning.
· Be prepared a few minutes early in the morning to account for daily variation. You never know what you may encounter, especially with winter weather still upon us. Leaving a few minutes early might just make your commute a breeze.
Okay, so the house is a bit of a mess. You have the tree out and the lights taken down, but there is still a mess of boxes in the garage and attic. New gifts mean new stuff around the house, and sometimes that means moving older items out of the way. Add to that all of the additional items you pulled down from the attic to accommodate guests and you may have quite the mess on your hands.
Did you children lose their study room? Did you lose your office? Maybe family members took your bedroom while you were on the sofabed. Regardless, all the shifting around is yet another reason for children to feel uncomfortable in the days just before they return to school.
To keep kids primed to do their best work we need to make sure they are comfortable and motivated. Here are a few simple ways to get reorganized.
· It’s time for the return of the homework station. If it got turned into a craft station over the break, this should be an easy transition. If it got moved for guests, try to get it back up and running before the first day of school. Don’t have a place for homework? This is a great time to make one. Set up an area for homework that has extra paper, pens, tape, scissors, calculators, etc. so that children have everything at their fingertips when it is time to get to work. This helps to reinforce work expectations and prevents distractions.
· Children’s bedrooms are just as important as a homework station. Placing furniture back in its original place, restocking closets and cleaning up after family visitors will help restore normalcy for your child. It can be hard to prepare for school if you can’t navigate your own room with ease and sleeping is uncomfortable.
· As with children’s rooms, so too for the rest of the house. If holiday decorations affect the flow of your house, it is a good idea to remove them before school starts. Although this is a personal choice, removing holiday-themed items is also another way to reinforce the return to your normal family schedule.
Sometimes we focus on how late the kids stay in bed or how they don’t seem to have their backpack ready, but we might be overlooking a bigger issue. The holiday change can be scary; heck, any change can be scary. As a parent, you have to be your child’s reinforcements. Remind them that you “have their back,” so to speak.
· Make sure to talk to your child about the new school year. It will be a big change. They have new teachers, new classmates, new material and new anxieties. The change could be difficult and they may be worried. Just knowing that it is okay to be scared, and that you understand and are there for them can make all the difference.
· Don’t just talk to them. Truly listen for real signs that they may be experiencing problems at school. Trouble with grades could be caused by a host of problems, from inattentiveness to vision problems to simple dietary concerns. If there is a problem, stamp it out early.
· Be positive. Remind them of all their friends at school and how many different activities they were missing being cooped up in the house.
· Take them to school and visit their new teachers. Give their teachers your contact information and let your kids know that they can reach you at any time. Feel free to ask questions of your child’s teachers. Many of them will welcome the positive input from an engaged parent.
Holiday break can be hectic, so don’t make the transition difficult too. Apply these helpful tips and going back to school will be a breeze. All it takes is a little planning and attention to detail. If you want your children to succeed, it is important to set them up with the resources they need. It is difficult for a child to stay in “school mode” and on routine during the holidays, so help them prepare for the change. In just a few days they could be confident, motivated and on track to succeed in 2015!