As the fun of summer vacation winds down, the inevitable happens: it's time for school to start back! A collective moan from kids, with mixed emotions from parents. The back to school blues is a real thing! Leaving behind sleeping late, staying up late and no routine to structure, a school routine and a new time in life is exciting and scary all at the same time. Every new school year is a challenge to both kids and parents alike. Their school environment may look really different this year. How can we, as parents, help prepare our children to face a new school year and battle these back to school blues before they become an issue?
Talk To Your Kids
First and foremost, have a conversation with your kids as they return to school. Sometimes, as parents, we find just opening up the door for dialogue gets them to share and talk about things they might not have told you otherwise.
- Start with an easy question: What are they most looking forward to about starting a new school year?
- Ask them, what are you NOT looking forward to most about school? You may already know the answer but it's a good conversation topic.
- Based on their answer to what they are not looking forward to, ask if there's a way you can help within this area. How can you help to turn this negative into a positive? They may have certain anxieties that come up in conversation. Help them develop a game plan to overcome them, then celebrate later when these particular instances work out for them.
- Routines are always an issue within families. Ask them what time school starts, what time it ends, what after school activities do they want to be involved in and on what days. Set up a weekly schedule for everything so important things are not forgotten. Ask their input on what time they should wake up and what time they should go to bed. Let them be involved in helping set the schedule. And make sure to include one fun, family meal each week and one night where you can gather as a family to play a game, watch a movie or have a little fun in the midst of the chaos. It keeps you all connected, even in a time where schedules are the most busy. Going back to a routine doesn't have to be a bad thing, it is actually a good thing!
- Keep the conversations going, especially once school starts. Make some time each day to ask how the day went, keep involved in what's going on in their classes, with their teachers and friends. Constant conversation keeps you in the loop and makes them feel more comfortable to come to you when things aren't quite so great.
- If you have teens and they are on social media, keep a constant eye on what they are saying and what is being said to them and about them. Make sure you set rules and boundaries for social media so it doesn't become a problem.
With work, school, after school activities, sports, schedules can get hectic and time is a rare commodity with school starting. Carve out some of your time to stay involved with your kid's teachers and schools. Subscribe to all the school emails and newsletters, make sure your children's teachers have your email and phone numbers and that you are a hands-on, involved parent. This will enable you to get important information on what's going on at school, important dates to remember, list of school supplies and important first day info for new students. Being able to connect with you will make the teachers feel comfortable to contact you whenever they need to let you know anything. Keeping lines of communication open with your kids, their teachers and their schools takes time and some work, but it's worth it when it helps provide a good learning environment for your kids and for you to be involved.
Set Goals For Your Kids
Working towards a goal is always good motivation and it helps keep focus. In thinking about how to deal with going back to school for your family, set some goals for them to work toward. Make sure they are realistic, achievable goals and ones that your kids will stay excited about and be motivated to achieve.
- Making all A's is fantastic, but it's not a realistic goal for everyone. Encourage them to work hard and study and make the best grade they can, then celebrate them as they succeed, no matter the letter grade.
- If your child is doing digital learning, encourage them to get outside when they are not doing school. Whether they are attending school in person or doing digital learning at home, set a goal for miles accomplished riding their bike, or walking and running. Encourage free time and outdoor time so that screen time isn't eating up their entire day. Self care is important for children too!
- Set goals for chores to be done around the house each week. Teach your teens how to cook and do laundry.
- If there is something important they want to buy, let them earn money each week doing chores and let them see how many weeks it will take to save up enough money to buy the item. The goal here is to learn how to work hard for what you want.
- Set a reading goal. Pick a few books they want to read, even some that will go along with school assignments, and see how many books they can read by the holidays. For every book read they can earn something they like or enjoy. Maybe make it a contest between family members to see who can read the most books. Winner gets to pick a special meal or movie to watch.
New Seasons Can Be Fun
The back to school blues are a real thing. We have all been through it before and made it to the other side! Just because this school year may look different than other years doesn't mean it can't be fun! The best outcome will be found in our attitudes and how we shape our outlook. We want our kids to remember that we took a difficult time and made the best of what we had. Sometimes the best memories come, not from perfect conditions, but from difficulty that was met with positive encouragement and an attitude of perseverance.
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