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Summer is winding down, and at this point you may have mixed feelings about the approaching start of a new school year. On one hand, you may be ready to welcome a bit more structure into your child’s days, but on the other, you may dread the flurry of activity that September brings – from homework, to back-to-school shopping, to after-school sports and hobbies. To make the transition from the lazy days of summer to the structured school schedule a bit more manageable, check out these five tips:
Most children tend to stay up later and sleep in during the summer vacation, which means that a September wake-up time may be a rude awakening … pun intended. Rather than allowing the late nights and late mornings to continue up until the first day, why not take some proactive measures? Simply move the bedtime and wake times up a bit each week. This gives your child’s body a chance to adjust to a different sleep cycle, making that first week of school a little less jarring when the alarm sounds.
As mentioned in Beating the Brain Drain Through Literacy, students risk losing up to 4-6 weeks of learning when they take the entire summer “off” from academics, so make sure your child is still doing some independent reading each day, along with other skill work (vocabulary, spelling, math games, etc.). If you are looking for some ideas to make skill practice a bit more fun, be sure to check out Beating the Brain Drain Through Computing and Summer Reading: Questions to Ask That Promote Comprehension for ideas.
In addition to the normal influx of papers and forms during that first week of school, get a jump start on the other paperwork and mail right now that may need your attention. You’ve probably received papers already – like bus schedules, lunch forms, physical forms for sports, etc. By taking care of these items today, you’ll have that much less managerial work to handle in a few weeks.
This is also the time of year to shore up arrangements for babysitters, daycare, and after-care. Plus, you may want to take some time to look at your child’s activities and commitments to prevent overscheduling and burnout. Between sports practices, volunteer work, music lessons, and after-school clubs, it’s easy to say “yes” to so many individual activities that your family schedule becomes overwhelming for everyone – and it can be especially easy to fall into the overscheduling trap when you have more than one child (or a son or daughter with a wide variety of hobbies and interests). Extra-curriculars are a fun, rewarding part of childhood, but be sure to allow for adequate time for homework and relaxation; limiting the number of commitments not only creates a schedule that works for the entire family but also may provide a better balance for your child.
Your child probably has more mixed feelings about going back to school than you do – excitement, nervousness, and anxiety. Be sure that you take time to discuss any concerns your child may have as the school year approaches. Things that seem minor to an adult can be earth-shattering to a child – worries about not finding classes, missing the bus, not knowing anyone in homeroom –all of these can cause angst and stress. Your active listening and encouragement could make all the difference at this time to help your child cope and understand that his or her feelings are completely normal. And if there’s a worry that you can do something about before school starts – like taking a tour of the school to locate the classrooms – you may be able to eliminate some of these worries altogether!
Yes, enjoy the end of summer vacation … but also remember to take a few minutes to think about and plan for September. You’ll be glad you did.