The back to school season can feel chaotic for both students and parents, in part due to changes in routines, responsibilities, and schedules. Parents can reduce these feelings of disruption by making intentional efforts to ease the transition from the lazy days of summer to the more focused academic year. Consider these options as you think about your student and what may help them have a more successful start to the school year.
Encourage healthy sleep patterns.
Summer is when many parents make exceptions to the rule when it comes to family routines. Is there an amazing movie playing at the cool drive-in theater? Are the kids playing flashlight tag after the neighborhood block party? Summertime makes it okay for parents to say yes to kids’ requests to stay up past their bedtimes. However, when summer winds to a close, a more structured nighttime routine can help students make an easier transition to school. Students work with their parents to create a plan that works meets everyone’s expectations. Think about what sounds reasonable for a time to go to bed and wake up for a school day, remembering that school-aged children should have between 8-12 hours of sleep a night in order to stay healthy. Here are some more ideas to help encourage better sleep patterns for students as they begin the school year.
Brainstorm activities that get them thinking.
There’s nothing wrong with a summer spent playing tag and video games with friends, body surfing at the beach, and lazing around in a hammock. Everyone needs time to relax, and summer is the ideal season for it! However, when the start of the school year approaches, parents can give their children a gentle boost into academics by planning activities that engage critical thinking skills. If the family takes a late-summer vacation, include a visit to a nearby science center or art museum. Visit the local library to see what new books (or old favorites) look interesting. Check the community calendar to see if there are any free classical music concerts or other events that help engage the brain. If parents schedule a handful of these activities during the end of the summer season, students will have an easier time making the move back into school-mode.
Take a mini-break after school starts.
Those first few weeks of school can feel both exhilarating and a little overwhelming. Once your student has established a good set of routines and gotten back into the swing of things with school, you might set aside some time to take a short break from courses. Students who have made a successful transition back to school will appreciate taking time to breathe and relax, maybe with a day trip to an amusement park, a special family dinner and a movie, or a day where the student gets to choose what would help them recharge their batteries. This shows students that their parents acknowledge the work they’ve done to tackle those back-to-school hurdles, and gives them energy to stick with those good habits through the rest of the semester.