Aug 31

10 Back To School Tips

It’s that time of year again. The weather is changing, the leaves will start turning color soon, and the kids are headed back to school. The first few weeks of school are often times of high stress for families. In part, this has to do with the change from a relaxed summer routine to one with more structure and where days are filled with school, homework, and extracurricular activities. The transition is a challenge for most families. Here are a few tips to help.


1. Enthusiasm and excitement – We have the most influence over our children through our own attitudes, values, and behaviours. If you demonstrate your own excitement and enthusiasm for the new school year, children are much more likely to feel the same way. Through this type of modeling behaviour we can transmit our values that school and learning are both important and fun. Have a discussion about the amazing things that are awaiting their discovery in their classrooms and the interesting people waiting to make new friendships with them.


2. Visit ­– Visiting a new place before the first day always helps reduce the fear of the unknown regardless if it’s children, teens, or adults that are returning to school. Having a look around, finding bathrooms, and meeting teachers makes the new site more familiar and less intimidating.


3. Sooth – Talk about any worries or concerns your kids might have. Reassure them these are just the way the body and mind prepare for something new and that almost all kids and adults feel the same way. Use encouraging language by talking about their strengths. You can also talk about how courageous they are with examples from their past. You can even tell your own stories about overcoming the same thoughts and feelings.


4. Support – Organize your first few days and maybe even weeks if possible, to account for the extra time needed for you, your kids, and the family to adjust. Include extra time for connecting with them so they know you are there for support during the transition.


5. Goals for the semester – Spend some time as a family making goals for the weeks between September and December. Make goals for the family and some for each family member. Make it a fun family ritual to do before each new part of the school year. Food, games, and being in the moment can help make it fun family time. Make the goals realistic, specific, and concrete. Put it onto paper, have fun decorating it, and making it interesting to look at. Place it somewhere where every can see it on a daily basis. Then check back in December to see how you did and set some more goals for January.


6. Weekly and monthly schedule – Make a schedule for the week and month. Put it where everyone can see it so they know what to expect with regards to activities and routines. Review it with all the members of the family to help them prepare for the transition. This can be part of your fun family goal setting time and get them involved so they can own their participation in the schedule.


7. Plan for homework ­- Make a plan for homework time so that it is the same place and time every day. Choose a location without distractions. Get your kids involved in the planning so they feel like they are choosing rather than having it chosen for them. If breaks and rewards are needed plan those too. Include them on your schedules especially if your kids are accumulating points to trade in for something else.


8. Daily Checklist ­- Create a daily checklist for your kids where they can check off the things they need to do each day. Again, this helps them own their own responsibilities. Also, children and teens, just like adults, can build empowering self-beliefs when they have concrete evidence of their successes.


9. Care for the body -Getting enough sleep, physical activity, and healthy food influences everything we do. They regulate our body, mind, and emotions. They also play a significant role in effective learning. If needed, include goals for the family related to sleeping, eating, and exercise. Then brainstorm some ideas of how to work together in a fun way to make it happen.


10. Prepare the night before – Get into a routine (add it to their daily lists) of preparing the night before including clothes, books bags, and lunches. It helps keep the morning chaos to a minimum when these things are already taken care of and it teaches your children the value of being organized (especially when they forget to do it!).


Other resources for back to school:

Back to School Tips for Parents of Anxious Kids

Preventing Bullying

Getting Kids Up for School

More Back To School Tips