Whether this is your child’s first experience with school (as a preschooler or a kindergartener) or is a seasoned pro, there are many things you can do to get ready for that first day. As a child, my favorite was the back to school shopping: getting a new first day of school outfit, and opening the new boxes of crayons and markers and trying them all out. I remember the excitement and bit of nervousness at all the unknowns: who will be in my class, where will I sit, will I like my teachers, what if I get lost or can’t open my locker? I still feel that flutter every fall, as I prepare to start my school year, and as my teenagers get ready to go back to school.
Here are some simple things that may help you and your child prepare:
Begin to move your child’s sleep cycle back to being in line with school.
Kids (especially teenagers) love to sleep late, and stay up late. Begin by getting them up a ½ hour earlier each day for a few days, until they are back on the regular time. If you tire them out during the day (outside physical activities), and turn off electronics (tv, video, etc) they will begin to quiet down and fall asleep earlier.
Talk to your child about school
Ask your child what they are looking forward to, and what their worries are. Keep the conversation light, and keep your discussions positive. If there are many worries, take your child to school for a visit before the first day. Take a walk around the building, play on the playground, find the bathrooms and begin to feel comfortable in the space. To practice getting ready for school and waiting for the bus, you can play games like beat the clock to see who can get their clothes on and backpacks ready before the timer goes off.
If your child is young, there are many great books about going to school and getting ready for the first day. I remember my kids loving “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten”. If your child is older, do some turn taking with finishing up the summer reading books, or let them read aloud to you and talk about the book. Turn off the t.v. and read your magazine or latest book, while your kids read their summer reading.
Organize a place for your child to study
Every child needs a consistent quiet place to work on homework. It may be the kitchen table, a desk and chair or a quiet corner in their room. Start working on this now, and let your child know you are thinking about the importance of school work. Help them organize some of their back to school supplies and leave them in their “study area”. Let them make this area theirs, with pictures or special holders for pencils (old coffee cans with material or colorful paper glued on them is a fun project!)
Enjoy the last days of summer with some fun family activities
Take a walk as a family, make a collage of some pictures of the things you did during the summer, or cook out with some friends. Let your child plan one special activity they would like to do before school starts. When my kids were young, they actually loved to “play school”. They got to be the teacher, and mom and dad had to be the students. This is a great activity, with lots of laughs (and you may get a sneak peek at how they are feeling about school!).