Over the summer, I found the bedtimes slowly began crawling later and later back as we were busy with camping trips, swim lessons, and enjoying the summer together. Other school year routines also got lost over the summer. We have had a fantastic few months, but now that the new school year is rapidly approaching, it’s time to prepare. Here are a few simple steps that are helping my kids (and can help yours too!) to get back into a school routine.
According to an article in the New York Times, most school kids need at least ten hours of sleep a night! Not getting enough sleep means that kids don’t perform as well in school. Perhaps even more practical for parents, tired kids are grumpy kids. My normally cheerful six-year-old is a tearful mess when she’s tired. In order to wake up in time for school and be happy during the back to school transition, kids need enough sleep.
It doesn’t have to be a drastic enforcement of a bedtime. If you plan in advance, you can slowly establish an earlier bedtime again. Try going to bed ten minutes earlier each night, or moving bedtime up by a half hour every week or two. Having a steady bedtime routine before school starts back will make life easier once it starts.
Closely related to bedtimes are mornings. My kids, for example, slept in until 8:30 this morning! It was then a lazy type of morning for them, and so they weren’t all fully dressed and ready to start the day until around 10:00. If I don’t prepare them, starting school at 7:45 in the morning is going to come as a huge shock! Start establishing the morning routines that you will need for school at the end of the summer.
For example, I’m already trying to find good breakfast solutions that are nutritious, filling, and quick for my kids. Encourage younger children to start dressing themselves regularly, etc. Being able to get up and out the door in the morning will help avoid a lot of stress on school mornings.
Although most schools give out recommended work for the summer, it usually gets a bit neglected by August. Even though kids are using their skills and knowledge in their play and daily activities, they aren’t necessarily used to more formal learning anymore. Encourage school type learning. It will help to prepare them for school and to do better when they go back.
We found some elementary school workbooks at the dollar store that we have started using with our daughters. They were cheap, but even just spending ten minutes a day on them is helping my kids to get used to school style learning again. I’m hoping this will mean less whining when the school year actually starts.
I find this is most effective if you can create a set time each day to work on it. It could even be that they sit at the kitchen table while you cook, but a schedule does help.
Not only is good nutrition important, mealtimes are important. A few weeks before school starts, try to establish set meal times. As kids will need to eat at pretty much the same times every day during the school year (especially for breakfast and lunch), this will help to get them back into a good eating routine.
I know from experience how frustrating it is to have your child bring home a lunch box that’s still full of food. Especially with elementary school children, a set meal schedule will really help them to eat better, concentrate better, and feel more confident.
Also make sure that meals are nutritious, well-balanced, and varied.
Although most parts of setting up a back to school schedule sound a bit boring, it also helps to involve your kids in the exciting back to school activities. Let them help pick out their own school supplies. If you can, give them an extra budget to buy a few new supplies for home as well. This will help them to feel more involved in the process and excited to start school again.
Above all, follow the prompts of your kids. You know whether your kids are happy and healthy or not. Pay attention to their needs and adjust schedules to help them succeed.
Have a good new school year!