A Conscious Parenting Guide for Back to School
Sleep. We cannot expect anyone to function academically, physically or emotionally without enough sleep. It’s always the first thing I ask about and so it is the foundational item of our checklist. If your child has enjoyed a more relaxed sleep schedule this summer, begin getting them back on track 1-2 weeks before the first day of school. If this is a struggle, take the transition slow and make sure they have a comfortable and consistent sleep routine before bed. If your kids have started school and they are having trouble with this, be patient and expect that it could take a couple weeks for their bodies to adjust.
Technology. Did your kiddo get more screen time over the summer than you plan for them to have during the school year? Prepare them for this by having a brief conversation about technology use at home and school. Set clear expectations you know you will be able to stick to and if you predict a daily battle, post your technology rules on the fridge for the entire family to consult. Be aware of the school rules surrounding phones and tablets etc. and incorporate them into your plan. The more closely your home and school plans align, the easier it will be for your child to understand, adjust and cooperate with their guidelines.
Organization. Back to school shopping can be a fun experience to help children look forward to the upcoming academic year. Take this momentum one step further and spend time helping your child organize her backpack, practice using new supplies, and even beginning to fill out a planner or schedule if it’s age appropriate. For children with learning and attention difficulties have multiple practice sessions and consider checking on their organization weekly so they don’t become overwhelmed and start to feel like they are falling behind.
Friends. If your child has spent the summer away from her "school friends," reach out to these families for a play date before everyone heads back to school. Having recently seen a buddy will get your child feeling confident and positive on her first day. This will be especially helpful for a shy or a socially anxious kiddo.
Classroom Visit. If your child's school offers an opportunity to visit her classroom or teacher before the first day of school try to take it. If this isn't an option, take a family walk around the campus, or bike ride together on the route your child will bike or walk to school. If this is a new school, this outing means she gets to walk around and find her classroom and the restroom with you, and not in a panic on the first day.
Special Needs. If your child has an individualized learning plan or needs extra help in the classroom, get in contact with your child's school as soon as possible. If this is a new school ask who the point person is for helping with a specialized learning plan. Let the school know if there have been any changes with your child over the summer, communicate new information from a medical provider or just say hello to confirm you are still on the same page with your child’s team at school.
What's the plan? Kids can be amazingly flexible- under the right circumstances. These circumstances are clear communication, consistency, and preparation. Is there a new carpool? A new school? A new after-school program? Your little one has got this! Just make sure you clearly explain what is happening and how it affects her- in advance. Does she have any questions? Now stick with it. If you need to adjust the plan, rinse, lather and repeat.
A Quick Note. Even the child who is counting down the days for school to start will miss you and home, a little, in the transition back. With any change it is nice to be reminded of the constants in our life- for your child, that's you! Put a note in her lunch or binder and since you're on a roll- sprinkle the hellos throughout the school year.
Checking In. Give your child some individual mom or dad time where they can share what they are so excited about in the upcoming school year and what they may be worried about. Put on your listening cap and take note, then check back in during the first week to see how things are turning out.
Turn Up The Enthusiasm! Remember, this is where your child is spending a huge amount of time- help them get excited about it. When you were in this grade- what was your favorite subject or activity, who was your best friend? Think about how big these things were for you at that time. Treat this as the big deal it is for them by asking them all about it!