“Look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present, it is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly heart.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
One of the most difficult changes is the transition from summer to fall, and the inevitable start of a new school year. If you have school age children, I’m sure that you are feeling it too. The school in which I teach started last week, but Liam’s school does not start for another week! I feel pretty fortunate that we start at staggered times.
However, we know many of your families will be experiencing lots of changes all at once, and that can be a challenge! Some children will even be starting a new school for the first time. Since I wear both hats, mom and teacher, I thought this blog post should cover how to prepare your child (and yourself) for the start of a new school year.
1. Prepare mentally
*Many children have anxiety at the start of a new school year. The best thing we can do is mentally prepare them. Be hopeful and positive when talking about their new grade and new teacher. Take them to visit their new school. Plan playdates with children who will attend the same school. Read stories and watch shows that depict children of the same age attending a new school. If your child has learning challenges, tell them that you, their teacher, and school staff are there to help. Make sure to communicate your concerns to your child’s teacher at the beginning of the school year. If your child has an IEP, remind them that their IEP ensures that they have the same services and support into the next school year. Really listen to their concerns and talk through them.
2. Talk about routines
*Anxiety is often caused by the unknown. You know your child best. If they are worried about pick up/drop off, homework, lunchtime, dividing time at mom’s and then dad’s house, or whatever it is, develop a plan so they can visualize how things will work throughout the school year.
*Include your child in shopping for back to school items like backpacks, lunchboxes, planners, binders, etc. They will appreciate being included, and it will foster more buy in. Typically we take care of things that we personally choose!
4. Best self for success!
*Check current clothing. Does your child have some nicer things to wear the first few days of school? If not, a few outfits can be purchased to express their personal style. Don’t break the bank though! Items can be purchased on sale or on consignment. Also, make sure your child’s haircut is fresh and their glasses prescription current!
5. Discuss the importance of making school a priority
*Even if your child is young, start talking about the value of education. Find ways to motivate your child to try their best in school, and to instill personal responsibility. Teach them to have a growth mindset-not to give up! (Refer to my previous blog posts about growth mindset.) Establish an afterschool routine. Consider creating an afterschool checklist-of course dependent upon their age. Items on the checklist may include: snack, a little playtime, and then homework. Make sure they have a regular place to do their homework as free from distractions as possible. Establish school and home contact immediately so you are aware of homework, projects, tests, school functions, your child’s progress, etc.
6. Incorporate fun family activities!
*Just because we are saying “goodbye” to summer vacation, doesn’t mean we can’t chip away at that summer bucket list. Firepitting, outdoor movies, fishing, biking, and so much more can be enjoyed on the weekends!
7. Eliminate potential stressors for you by doing the following:
*Check out the school/s websites for calendars, bell schedules, and other helpful info
*De-clutter your house and car!
*Meal plan and grocery shop per your plan! Prepare food in advance.
*Get an Instant Pot kitchen appliance! Every household should have one!
*Have a family calendar that both parents and teens have access to at all times.
*Keep up on your car maintenance!
*Make sure your printer has ink!
Does this about cover it? What would you add? We’d love to hear from you! We wish you and your child/ren a wonderful start to the new school year!