Back to school season is upon us! This year was my first experience being involved in the “Back to school” hype and let me tell you, I was nervous! My son has been attending daycare full-time since he was twelve weeks old and I was still nervous to send him off to his first day of public school kindergarten. It felt much bigger than he is!
Thankfully, I was able to do a few things that eased the transition for both of us.
1. Establish great evening and morning routines
Kids thrive on routine. They need to know what to expect so their ever-growing brains can make sense of it all. Routines are especially important when the family has a schedule to keep such as getting to school and work on time. Establishing these routines in the weeks leading up to school can be helpful for everyone to get the hang of it.
A bedtime routine sets the stage for the next morning. Making sure your child is getting quality rest, and enough of it, starts hours before bedtime. Your bedtime routine is a chance to connect with your child, help them feel safe and loved, and allow them to go to bed feeling calm and relaxed. This routine might involve talking about your day, reading books, quiet connecting play, a warm calming bath, or some snuggles.
The morning routine sets the stage for the rest of the day. Wake your child up at the same time each day, making sure you allow enough time for the morning schedule without rushing or dragging them along. Think about the type of morning that makes you feel prepared for the long day ahead and then give that to your child. Speak to them calmly and kindly while they wake up. Offer them a well balanced breakfast and some cool water to support their bodies.
These routines are going to look different for each family depending on the actual schedule, but routines that hold order and offer a sense of security to your child can help with the back to school transition.
2. Set expectations around school schedules
Another sense of security to offer your children is who will pick them up from school and when. Be clear and consistent. If they will be riding a bus or going to after school programs, let them know exactly what that will look like. Remind them often that you will see them after the day is over. Be excited to see them again. Let them know you’ll want to hear all about their day. They will feed off of your positive energy. If they have any apprehension or anxiety, let them know they are safe and loved and you will always be there to pick them up or when they get home.
3. Pack lunches together
Packing school lunches can be a fun time to connect and teach your child about well-balanced diets and how food serves our bodies. Let them choose some of the food you add to their lunch box. Include some fun utensils or food picks to keep the excitement going! Focus on a balanced of carbs, protein, and healthy fats in their lunch box each day to keep them full and focused during school. Don’t be scared to include a treat also! This will have them looking forward to lunch each day.
4. Choose a first day outfit together
In the days leading up to the first day of school, plan out a First Day Outfit that your child will feel cool and confident in! It can be so much fun to see their personalities shine through in their fashion choices. Give them gentle guidance to keep their outfits appropriate or within the school guidelines but offer them autonomy in their choices when possible. This can not only build excitement but also give them a sense of control around a situation that might feel big and scary to small children.
Going back to school comes with some stress but as the parents, it’s our job to make it fun and exciting for our kids while managing their expectations.