While most students look forward to the exciting first day of school, the same can’t really be said for the days, weeks, and months of school days that follow soon thereafter. Coming out of a long summer vacation and right into a new schedule with far more rigidity and routine, not to mention homework, can be hard for students and their parents to adjust to. Sometimes, many people start the new school year by jumping into it, but going from summer to school mode isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. This school year, instead of being caught off-guard by the sudden changes in lifestyle, we suggest easing into the new school schedule before class is even in session. Here are some easy ways to start preparing yourself and your children for school to start back up so that you can ace this new year.
Adjust sleep schedules.
Sleep is very important for children and parents alike, enough said. While your children might stay close to a school year routine by attending day camps, summer is meant for some late night fun and some even later mornings. As the school year inches closer however, we suggest to start getting to bed and waking up earlier, as you would during the school year so that your body’s internal clock doesn’t have as hard of a time adjusting to the new schedule. The adjustment from summer to school is hard enough as it is, and when you aren’t going from hot-to-cold with your sleep schedule, you can worry less about those pesky sleepy tantrums or the “mommy hasn’t had her coffee yet!!!” irritation.
Train the brain.
Between trips to the pool, constant playdates, and some extra TV time, many kids’ minds aren’t as active in the summer as they are during the school year. Letting off some steam and catching a break is great, but it’s important to give the brain frequent “workouts” before school starts. Think of it this way: if you trained everyday for a marathon over a year and suddenly stopped for three months, would you make the same time your first attempt back as you did when you were training regularly? The answer is most definitely no.
Start training the brain by having your children do some stimulating activities in the ending weeks of summer so that they aren’t as rusty when it comes to academics. We suggest dedicating at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, everyday leading up to school to have your children do some educational workbooks, flash cards, reading, writing, or any other helpful activities if you haven’t been doing so already. When children spend this crucial time getting back into academics, not only will it put them ahead of the curve, but they also won’t have as hard of a time facing the evil monster that is homework.
Make homework fun.
Most students will agree that the absolute worst part of going back to school is all of the homework. Homework alone is enough to cause the “But I don’t want to go!” meltdowns, but homework is a problem that can’t be avoided. However, we have an easy solution to tackle homework woes, especially if you have younger children! Before school starts, set up a little homework station at a table in your home. Use a small rolling cart, a box, or a portable, thrifty shower caddy and fill it with standard school supplies in addition to some fun additions such as colored markers, play dough, stickers, and even a miniature white-board. You can also store flashcards and activity workbooks near this space to keep everything educational in one spot.
Introduce your children to this special area near the end of summer and frame the space positively when you explain it to them. “This is where you are going to do your homework this year. This is a quiet place to help you focus and to allow you to do your best work. Once you’re done with your homework everyday, you can go and play after unless you want to stay and do some more special activities with these supplies.” We recommend doing some of the brain training activities that we mentioned earlier in this space so that your children can get used to the area and begin to associate it positively with academics.
Don’t kill off summer completely.
The hardest thing about saying goodbye to summer is losing all of the fun aspects of it at once. But, just because school is in session doesn’t mean things can’t still be fun! Think about what your family’s favorite things about summer are, and try to incorporate them into the academic year. After a school day, surprise your children with summery popsicles, and if the weather is still warm, take out everyone outside for a water gun battle before bath time. Little surprises like these are a great way to carry summer fun throughout the entire school year.
The end of summer is always bittersweet. As sad as we are to lose the warm weather and free days, we are excited to begin a new school year. We hope that these four tips were helpful in getting you ready to start this school year right! Good luck!