Making the transition back to school can be challenging for both parents and children. Re-establishing routines and a regular schedule after time away is tricky and can cause anxiety and stress. However, with the right amount of prepping and planning, the process can be smooth and anxiety-free.
To help jump-start your family’s back-to-school prepping, read through the list below and choose the path that is right for your child’s individual needs. Start implementing your plan early and allow yourself the flexibility to try several different strategies until you find what works best.
Preparing Your Elementary School Student
- Two to three weeks before school begins, set your children’s sleep schedules back to their school schedule. Start gradually to allow their bodies to adjust to the desired time.
- Read a back-to-school book and discuss their feelings about beginning school. Be prepared to answer questions. Use the characters in the book to help you answer the hard questions and provide a relatable example.
- Discuss what your child should expect from a school day. Talk about the first day of school and a normal school day as they tend to run differently. Reach out to your child’s teacher and ask for a rough copy of the schedule, so you can go over transitions that might cause anxiety or uncertainty.
- Decide what to do about lunch. Get your child involved with the decision. If you pack a lunch, get organized and pack lunches ahead of time. If school lunches are the route you choose, download a copy of the lunch menu from the school website and go over the choices with your student before he or she goes off to school.
- Visit the school and classroom, if possible. If visits are not allowed during the summer, drive the route you will take during the school year and discuss what will happen along the way. Talk about how your student will get home, where he or she will enter and exit, and what to do if you are running late.
Preparing Your Middle and High School Student
- Help your student develop his or her organizational skills by purchasing a planner. Allow your child to choose one that fits his or her personality and spend time explaining and practicing how to use it.
- Attend the summer activities offered by the school. Most schools offer fun-themed days or orientations during the last couple of weeks of summer to help students find new classes and get to know other students.
- Find a time to discuss concerns and fears your child might have beginning a new school year or going to a new campus. Your kiddo might not want to talk about it, but being available and open goes a long way.
- Go back-to-school shopping. Allow your student to choose a new outfit to wear on the first day of school that complies with the school’s dress code. Save it until the first day to make it special. Don’t forget to snap a photo before leaving for school!
- Create a game plan for your student’s new and overfilled schedules. Decide how he or she will get to school, what extracurricular activities to participate in, whom to go home with, and homework. Having these discussions early will keep emotions calm and stress at a minimum.
Preparing Yourself as a Mom
- Shop for supplies early. The elementary school supply lists come out in late July. Shop early to beat the rush and allow students ample opportunity to choose the supplies they enjoy and feel comfortable with. For older students that do not get a list until school begins, buy the basics early to avoid having to store hop.
- Keep a family calendar. Check-in on a regular basis to go over extracurriculars, projects, assignments, family obligations, and important dates.
- Have a pre-decided backup plan in case you cannot pick up your child, have an emergency, or get stuck in traffic.
- Pre-plan and prep as much as possible the night before. Pack the next day’s lunches, buy school lunches online, check backpacks and folders, and set out clothes for yourself and your children.
- Allow yourself a predetermined schedule that creates time for play, homework, snack, dinner, and some much-needed mom time.
With a little planning, a calm head, and practice you will be able to start the school year off on a strong foot.