Back To School
Are you celebrating or mourning this final week of summer holidays? Are you counting down the hours and minutes until your children are back to school or milking every last drop out of each day? Which ever of these describes you, one thing is for certain, they will soon be spending at least 6hrs a day out of the house and back with teachers and friends.
I have complied a list of a few tips, tricks and hacks that I have learnt over the past 12 years of prepping and sending kids off to school.
Get back on schedule - I recommend that if your summer sleep schedule is different than your school sleep schedule that you start bringing these back in line. Start inching bedtime/wake up time earlier/later by 15mins at a time until it is back to normal. I have found this to be helpful in keeping emotional and mental health high during the first few weeks back at school.
Start talk with your child about what to expect, especially if they are starting a new school, or have been anxious about about past changes in their lives. I recommend, if possible, doing a dry run. This could involve doing a practice walk to school (especially if they will doing this by themselves this year ). As most local schools are open this week, I also recommend going for a quick visit and walk around at the school. Try not to interrupt the teachers who are busy planning and prepping but a quick check of the floor plan is likely fine. Helping your child/or telling them to arrange a friend to walk with can also provide some comfort - especially in high school.
School supplies. Many schools have lists for students to purchase while other schools have you pay a “supplies” fee. Find out which applies to your school. Although many parents have all these items purchased (& even labelled) before the 1st day, my experience has taught me that this isn’t necessary. I recommend waiting until they are settled in to their new class and you/they have had a chance to find out directly from the teacher what is required. This is especially relevant for high school! Wait and see what their specific teacher requires. This will save you some money and headache.
Watch out for “after school restraint collapse” - YUP! This is an actual thing. Look it up. It is most common in children under 12 but I have seen it in my teens too. I remember seeing a HUGE behavior change in my son when he went from 1/2day Kindergarten to full day Gr1. He was a MESS when he got home. It became normal and healthy for him to retreat to his room for an hour or so. I came to learn this was his way of decompressing after a full day being “on”. My other children had their own ways of settling after school. Having a snack was a big one. The fridge was often the first place they went. If I was home, once in awhile I would have stuff ready for them and it was always very appreciated and helpful and set a positive tone in the house.
Homework - I do not recommend insisting that this be the first thing they do when they get home BUT I do feel like getting it out of the way as soon as possible saves stress and worry later in the evening/night. A big part of my parenting strategy has been to help them figure out what works best for them. They are each different and handle their homework differently. One BIG tip we have talked about often in our house was the importance of getting their work done in class. I have found most teachers here locally, at the elementary level, have jumped on the “no homework” bandwagon (which we wholeheartedly agree with in this house). What gets sent home most often is work not completed in class and project work. My kids are BUSY after school. They are each in multiple sports/activities so time management is a key skill we discuss. For my teens, gentle reminders are needed and we often ask questions about what is coming up/what they need to be prepared for. Because of their packed schedules, they have learnt to use their “off” days to get as much done as they can.
September can be a busy and challenging month for children AND parents. Adjusting to new schedules, figuring out car pools/lunches/dinners, going back to a regular work schedule for Parents, arranging before/after school care...ALL OF IT can be overwhelming. Know you are not the only parent struggling. It is an emotional and stressful time. Give yourself some kindness and know that it’s ok if you have blunders. The kids will survive and you WILL make it through.