7 Ways to Set Up Your Child (and Yourself) for School Year Success
Work, home, social life, extracurricular activities. So much to do, so little time. And with school right around the corner, time to add getting the children up and to school, complete with everything they need, to your already bursting to-do list.
Here are 7 steps to making this a successful transition!
- Establish systems – getting out the door can be crazy, and a frazzled morning can lead to grumpy children and adults. Set up systems to help the morning flow more easily for everyone. Label areas where children should leave their backpacks, shoes, and other needed belongings. Before going to bed, make sure everything makes it to that space. Near the door, post pictures of what children should have for school and have everyone double check before walking out. You can also post pictures of what should be in the backpack to lessen the chance of forgetting something. Lay out outfits the night before to avoid choice paralysis in the morning.
- Cut yourself some slack – In the grand scheme of things, a quick breakfast of an apple and a granola bar instead of fresh-squeezed juice and scrambled eggs is not going to make or break a child’s day. But, a couple extra minutes of sleep for your child and one less task for you may start your morning off on a better foot. Instead of pairing socks, throw them in a basket as they come out of the dryer. Children can find their own matches there (also a good learning experience). Look for little ways to cut stress from your life.
- Allow for consequences – Natural consequences are the most effective teaching tools. When we protect children from the consequences of their actions, we deny them that learning. An older child will only forget her gym shoes once or twice if she has to miss gym. But, if you always drop everything and run them to her, you are adding to your stress and she will never learn. Establish systems (tip one), remind once, and be there to help your child learn from her mistake and to come up with a plan for next time.
- Pick your battles – Children often express themselves through interesting clothing choices. Pushing a child to wear something that matches or falls in line with your expectations is often just not worth the battle. As long as the outfit covers everything that needs to be covered, is not offensive, and is in line with dress code, bite your tongue and appreciate their creativity as you get them out the door.
- Set a homework routine – Have a time and space for homework. Support your child by being with him in that space reading or getting some of your own work done. Be available for help, but don’t do the homework for him. Help him find the answers. The future calls for people who are problem-solvers and critical-thinkers. To meet this call, our children need to know how to find answers, not just repeat them.
- Plenty of sleep – We all know the importance of sleep, especially to a child. Even though the sun may be burning bright well past bedtime, work hard to get the family in bed at a reasonable hour. Children’s brains need the rest, and everyone’s mornings will go so much smoother when fatigue is taken out of the equation.
- Plan for connection – Finally, no matter how old a child is, or how much she might appear to push you away, you are a much needed part of their life. Intentionally build in times for connection. If you share a commute, turn off the music and use open-ended conversation starters such as “tell me something you are proud of today” or “what did you see that was interesting today?”.
Or, keep up a tradition of story time every night. As children get older, switch to chapter books or let him read to you. Reading for pleasure is a welcome break from reading for school.
And, while getting the family around a dinner table is not always easy, it is proven to build resiliency in children. Children who eat with their families on a regular basis are much more likely to avoid negative life choices. So, even if it’s take-out pizza, enjoy it together at the table (although, a picnic blanket on the floor works equally well).