Going back to school is an exciting time for the little ones. Sometimes it can be exhilarating; other times frightening. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air and lots of things to prepare, all of which can lead to stress and anxiety. Children have enjoyed a lot of freedom for several weeks during the summer, and now they’ll have to adapt to a life regulated by precise schedules. It will take time to get re-accustomed to and it will have to be properly managed. Both parents and children have an important role to play. Vie de Parents and Familiprix want to help ensure your back-to-school preparations get off on the right foot.
Keeping your cool in this emotional environment isn’t always easy. But it’s doable with good planning. The start of the school year involves many preparations, such as buying clothing, footwear, and school supplies. And if your child is entering kindergarten or going to high school, there’ll be even more stress and new things to deal with.
Your child will feel safe inside the framework you’ve implemented in your home. These rules and schedules are, in a way, their safe haven. According to education specialist Geneviève Harvey-Miville, to develop a feeling of security, “your family must adopt a clear, concrete, constant, coherent and consistent lifestyle."
The sleep routine
For a smooth transition, plan days and evenings with a stable environment and precise schedules. One of the key steps is establishing a sleep routine. A few days before the beginning of the school year, resume a good lifestyle by putting your children to bed half an hour earlier, two or three nights in a row, then progress to an hour earlier, and so on, until the start of the school year.
The meal routine
You’ll have to also return to serving more balanced meals suitable for school life, eaten at more regular times, with the entire family seated at the table, in peace. Gone are the days of eating sandwiches while standing and overexcited, like during those picnics in the park. Perhaps they missed out on getting their vegetables lately when you were out and about as a family?
The homework routine
Homework doesn’t have to be a scramble anymore if you provide a designated workspace. This can be set-up in the bedroom for older children. For younger children requiring more supervision, they can work in a reserved space in the dining room. Maintain the same daily schedule for homework, but it’s important to base it on their preferences. The routines table can be displayed in the workspace for easy reference.
Involve your children
Getting your kids involved will reduce some of the stress and anxiety. If parents and children get involved together, schedules will be re-established more easily to juggle homework, relaxation time, screen time, play time or just “doing nothing” time. There’s something reassuring about preparing meals, schedules and routine tables as a family.
A good parent-child practice is to prepare family lunches during mealtime. It’s a great way to find out what your children prefer if their tastes have changed or if there are new things available to offer them. Also involve your children in developing the menus and preparing the evening meals.
Prepare in advance
Many things can be done in advance to reduce anxiety. We know that children ask themselves a lot of questions at the start of the school year. Some will be anxious to know if they’ll have friends in their new group, whereas others, more fearful, will simply not want to return to school. There are also some parents who are able to anticipate any problems when dealing with the mountain of preparations.
In these cases, to play down the drama, visualize the start of the school year in a positive way by planning things to do in advance with the children. You can dissect the calendar and write down the activities, remember the return-to-school date, visit the bus stop location together, review any information sent by the school with them, clean out their closets and drawers, and stock up on snacks.
And above all, involve them in preparing school materials, including sorting through last year's materials, printing labels, and finalizing the shopping list with them. If they're old enough to shop with you, try to make it a time for bonding!
Don’t forget to take care of yourself and/or your relationship
You have to set time aside for yourself in order to enjoy some serenity during the back-to-school hubbub—it’s important. And save time for your relationship: don’t sacrifice your evening bike rides, make an appointment with yourself to meditate, schedule outings for two in your calendar and go on small, fun dates far away from the hustle and bustle of your household.