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Gearing Up for Back to School

It’s hard to believe summer is almost over and within the next few weeks we’ll be seeing that familiar sight of school buses in neighborhoods everywhere.  I must admit, by end of summer I’m feeling like the parent in that old commercial who is gleefully pushing his cart through a store while stocking up on school supplies as "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" plays in the background.   End of summer boredom has set in for my teens and they’re ready to head back to school with their friends (although they’d never admit it!).  The transition from lazy summer days to a new school year isn’t always easy, but over time I’ve found a few ways to help get your kids back on track with minimal drama.

I try to keep in mind how this change in schedule impacts their overall well-being.  If your kids are like mine, their bedtime schedules have changed a lot from the school year.  Alex and John are typically in bed by 9:30 on school nights and they get up at 6:30.  This is compared to their summer schedule of going to bed around 11:00 and getting up at 9:00 (9 is my rule–if I let them they’d surely stay in bed until 10 or 11).  In order to better prepare them for the first day of school, I start a week in advance of making them go to bed an hour earlier and get up an hour or so earlier.  It allows their bodies to adjust and makes that first day so much easier.  Both kids function better when they get the sleep they need.

My husband and I also start setting expectations for the upcoming school year a few weeks in advance.  Since they’re teens these conversations are pretty straightforward, but if your child is younger it may take a little bit of creativity on your part.  Start laying out new school clothes and involve them in selecting school supplies and backpacks.  If you get your child’s books in advance, take a quick look at them together.  The idea is to get your child excited and motivated about starting a new school year.

Some kids can be nervous about the first day, especially if transitioning to a new school.  In order to minimize anxiety and stress, having open discussions about their feelings and an advance visit to the school isn’t a bad idea.  Last summer, before my kids started high school I took them to the school and showed them around to get them familiar with the layout.  We practiced them getting from one class to another in a set amount of time.  They both told me how much this helped them the first week of school when the halls were packed with kids searching for their next class.

Honestly, no matter how much you do or don’t plan for the start of school, your child will get through the first week and adjust.  However, it might be worth your while to give these ideas a try–if only to make that transition easier on you. 

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