Tips to help busy parents transition their children back to school with less tantrums!With the end of the holidays coming upon us as parents, we are all looking forward to our children returning to school and the return of a routine. Don’t get me wrong I love the holidays and having an extended break with my children, but I am happy to return to that dreaded routine by Australia day.With a little planning, you can make going back to school simple and stress free.
Here are some helpful hints of activities to start prior to your children returning back to school to help them and yourself as a parent transition;
Use a calendar –
Count down the days leading up to returning to school. This will help reduce anxiety and allow you to address any fears or worries your child may have about returning to school.
Start a routine –
Ease into the school-year schedule. Getting back into the school routine can be a challenge for everyone in the family. To make the adjustment easier, start early. You can achieve this by creating a visual schedule for the week and a morning visual schedule. By providing these schedules it gives your child a clear expectation.
Where possible…provide positive reinforcement time and praise after your child has completed their morning routine by providing them with a meaningful reward. You must make sure the reward is something your child wants/looking forward too otherwise it will not work well as a motivator. For example; providing them play time on the ipad only after they have got ready for the morning. If your child is allowed to play with the iPad or turn on the tv before they have gone to the toilet, got dressed and eaten breakfast you will be providing them with constant reinforcement that they do not need to complete their routine before they are allowed to play and will continue to control their own routine. Thsi can later cause issues when you only have an hour to get your children ready and drop them off to school prior to work each day. Other tips are:
- A few days before school starts, move bedtime back to an earlier time.
- Establish a “get ready the night before” policy. Pick clothes for the next day and pack the backpack every evening before bedtime, and you’ll save precious time in the morning.
- Put a positive spin on going back to school. Talk about the fun things your child will learn, the old friends he’ll see and the new friends he’ll make.
- If your child is anxious about starting the next grade, reassure them that other children have these feelings too.
- Don’t make plans for big trips right before the start of school.
- Establish school-day schedules for homework, TV, baths and bedtime.
- Arrange play dates with friends from school to re-establish connections that may have been dropped for the summer, or to create new ones.
Get organised –
Take advantage of the slower pace during the holidays to set up for the busy year ahead.
- Many schools send out school information and a packet of forms to fill out before school starts. If you can discipline yourself to fill out the paperwork several days before it’s due, you’ll avoid last-minute panic.
- Update school emergency contact and health information for the coming year.
- As you read through all the school information, mark important dates (such as back-to-school night, parent-teacher conferences and school holidays) on the family calendar.
- Start a folder for school newsletters and other papers so that you can easily find and refer to them if necessary.
Holidays are usually filled with extra treats and rewards. It can hard for adults and children to change back to healthier meals before returning to school. Get creative ahead of time by trying new healthy snacks during the holidays and on weekends and allow your child to help prepare their food to increase their interest. If you plan and gather what you need on the weekends, you’ll make life a lot less stressful and meals more nutritious during the week.
- Start by eating at least one piece of fruit per day – as they would at fruit break at school
- Make sure your child eats breakfast! If they are not a fan of eating in the mornings try a fruit smoothie with plain or natural yoghurt so that they are receiving ample calcium and natural sugars to start their day.
- Lunch time gets a little boring after a while here are a few ideas to brighten your child’s lunchbox:
- For the younger child, use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into interesting shapes.
- Sneak vegetables like lettuce, cucumber or zucchini slices into sandwiches.
- Buy rice crackers or pretzels. Avoid items with trans fats in them such as packaged cookies, snack cakes and regular chips.
- Make fruit fun to eat by cutting it into slices and putting it on a skewer or include small containers of applesauce or pineapple packed in its own juice.
- For the younger child, write a surprise message or draw a funny picture and put it in her lunch.
- Get older children to help pack their lunches. You may need to arrange the morning routine (or evening routine if you do this the night before) so that you don’t do this chore by yourself.
Everyone will feel better if transportation to and from school is addressed well before the start of the school year, particularly if your child is walking, riding his bike or taking the bus.
Walking or biking
- Chart out a route to school or to the school bus stop.
- If your child is going to a new school, take a dry run a few days before school starts.
- Go over the rules of stranger awareness and traffic safety. Warn your child to always walk with a friend, and to avoid vacant lots and places where there are not a lot of people.
- Be sure your child has your daytime phone number (including area code) and address, as well as the number of another familiar adult.
- Scout out safe houses in the neighbourhood where your child can go in case of an emergency.
Taking the bus
- Remember to get the new bus schedule!
- If your child will be taking the bus for the first time, discuss the bus route and bus safety rules with them
- See if any other friends may be taking the same school bus and encourage the use of a buddy system to catch the bus each day
- If you will be driving your child, have a backup arrangement with another parent in case you are delayed for some reason.
- Confirm carpool arrangements in advance and make sure your child knows who will be picking him up before and after school.
- Become familiar with your school’s traffic safety rules, drop-off and pick-up procedures.
Confirm after school care arrangements –
Most after-school care arrangements must be made months ahead. As the school year approaches, however, it’s a good idea to confirm your plans.
- Make sure your child knows where they are going after school. You can make a storybook up for them to read each day to reinforce what their school day will typically include.
- Double-check on your care plans and communicate with the provider a few days before school starts.
- For older children that will be home alone after school, establish safety rules for locking doors and windows, and for answering the door and the telephone. Make sure they know to check in with you or another adult when they arrive at home.
And most of all ENJOY… take the time if you can to grab a cuppa after the kids have gone to school and relax!!