Saying good-bye to lazy summer days and hello to structured school days can be hard to do. Here are a few ways to help make going back to school easier for you and your children:
Set realistic goals with your children. This is a perfect time to involve your children in thinking about their own goals and objectives for the upcoming year. What worked well for them last year and which routines were helpful? For example, having an hour of free time after coming home before starting homework, or limiting activities to three days, not four days a week.
What do they want to accomplish this year? How about being more efficient with homework by taking a half hour television or Internet surfing break after finishing two hours of their assignments? Do they want to get more involved in sports this year or branch out into a new activity, such as student government?
Organize school and activity schedules. Back to school planning allows you to get back into a routine. Buy a calendar or make one with your kids.
Every year I purchase a calendar and post it in my kitchen, which is the centralized area of the house. I write in all the activities (track practice, soccer games, violin lessons, and social events. This allows me to figure out how to organize each school day and each weekend. This also teaches my children organizational skills and responsibility.
Transition back to healthier eating and sleeping habits. With summer barbeques and late night trips to the ice cream shop, summer eating schedules usually vary from the school year. Now is a good time to get back on track with healthy choices for school lunches and snacks. Don’t forget to explore the many options for breakfasts (the most important meal of the day).
Take at least a week to slowly shift your kids’ sleep schedule back to meet their needs. At least ten hours of sleep for six to eleven year olds and at least nine hours of sleep for ages twelve and above. This is not easy with the longer summer days and less structured mornings. Some ways to help your child fall asleep more easily include avoiding caffeine intake six hours prior to bedtime, as well as heavy meals or sugary snacks just before it’s time to go to sleep. It is also a good idea to cut off use of electronics such as television, videogames, computers, and intense texting sessions one hour before bedtime. Close the curtains or blinds to allow more darkness in the room, as this usually provides a relaxing environment.