By Kasey Short, Middle School Director of Studies
Going back to school after months of summer break is a significant transition. While some children can more seamlessly get back into the routine of school days, they all benefit from some help from the adults in their lives. Here are some tips I can share as the parent of three children and a Middle School educator for nearly 20 years.
Tip #1: Re-establish Routines
Gradually reintroducing more structured meals, earlier bedtimes, and waking up earlier makes the first few days of school go more smoothly and prevents complete exhaustion after the first day. As a teacher, I find that overall kids have the adrenaline to make it through the first day but are tired by day two and exhausted by day three. I start slowly resetting for a back-to-school schedule 1.5-2 weeks before school starts.
Tip #2: Share and Discuss Schedules
Create a calendar of back-to-school events, extracurricular activities, and any other extra events that make that first month back extra busy. Then share and discuss the schedule with your child. When kids know the schedule in advance, they know the expectations and can plan for them. This helps kids of all ages. Younger kids always benefit from structure and knowing what is going to happen next, and older kids need to plan for homework and their own social activities.
Tip #3: Establish and Discuss Expectations
Help children create their own goals for the year and then invite them to brainstorm what might help them achieve these goals. Provide your input and make sure they know from the beginning what your family expectations will be for the school year. For example, if it is an expectation for kids to do their homework before anything else, remind them of this. If screen time limits are different during the school year than they are in the summer, be sure to discuss the transition back.
Tip #4: Read Daily
As an English teacher and someone who absolutely loves books, I hope that kids are reading all summer; however, I know that reading can take a backseat to outdoor fun, family vacations, and movie marathons. If children haven’t been reading as much, get them back into the habit before school starts with daily reading. This will get their brains back in a mindset for critical thinking and learning and begin rebuilding those habits for the school year.
Tip #5: Reconnect with Friends
If your child hasn’t had an opportunity to see their school friends this summer, taking time to reconnect before school starts may help alleviate any social anxiety and build confidence before the start of the year.
Tip #6: Plan Ahead
The more you can plan with your child in advance, the better the chance for the first day to go well. Decide on their outfit, what they would like for lunch, and get any supplies they need purchased and organized for the first day back. By being prepared in advance, you can take the pressure off the first day and hopefully spend the last few days of summer doing something fun and relaxing a bit.
Tip #7: Create Excitement
Focus on all the positive aspects of the start to a new year. It is easy for kids to focus on getting up early, doing homework, and returning to stricter schedules. So, shift the focus to seeing friends, having new teachers, taking part in extracurriculars and fun back-to-school events, or anything else that excites your child about the new school year.
Here's to a successful 2023–24 school year!!