And now that the revitalizing summer break is over – even the most free-spirited, independent kids do best when they are given clear limits, and understand what is expected of them.
This is where routines come in.
Family routines and meaningful rituals guides the child’s behaviour and are straightforward, dependable ways of handling day-to-day family life – and its predictable consistency.
Here are few simple strategies on how parents can help ease the transition of getting kids-back-to-school-mode.
Making sure your child’s body clock is ready for the school day is an essential part of school success. If the holidays have edged his bedtime routine towards late hours, it is a good idea to start adjusting bed times and wake up times early enough to get back into the rhythm of the school day.
- Establish a logical order of events – especially valuable for young children. For example, eat dinner, read a story, go to sleep – and follow it.
- “Unplug” older kids from media – no TV, gaming or PCs – half an hour before bed.
- Decide on a reasonable bedtime and be consistent about enforcing it.
Return of the morning rush means trying to get one, or two kids up, dressed, fed, packed and out of the home every day – on time. You can help them by having kids pack their school bags, set out their uniform and polish their shoes in the evening before. Also make them responsible for giving you any slips, or forms, or notebooks that need to be signed in the evening itself.
- Establish wake up times: If your 3rd grader needs more bathroom time than his younger sister, get him up 15-20 minutes before her.
- Make lunches ahead of time. For instance, sandwiches can be easily made ahead of time. Fruits, cheese, water bottle or other munchies can be organized beforehand, so that you do not lose on precious morning time in looking for all this.
- Make it a team effort. Let your elder one help the younger with her laces, or backpack. Or let the older sibling pour milk/cereal at the breakfast table, while the younger can clear up the empty bowls.
- Fix the number of hours each day for TV watching, and do not waver from it. Experts recommend no more than 10 hours per week.
- Both your kids fighting to watch different programs, at the same time? Make such instances as ‘Black-out periods’, when no one gets to watch anything.
Being Prepared At Home Routine
- Take advantage of the schools website, or newsletters or yearly planner to understand which type of activities are scheduled and prepare for them, if necessary, beforehand.
- As you shop for school supplies, buy organizational tools like planners or sticky notes so that children can begin taking responsibility for their own details.
- Encourage children to speak to teachers or friends to find other information/details.
- Get homework done on time.
- Also stay cheery, positive and warm with kids.
Facing sibling rivalry, or lack of discipline? Decide what your household rules will be – no hitting, homework before playtime, no jumping on the couch etc. – and make sure your children understand that you’re serious.
- Be Consistent. If jumping on couch is not okay today, it should not be okay tomorrow either.
- Want to introduce a new discipline strategy? Plan on sticking to it for a while, say one or two months to establish it as a routine.
- Talk often about the importance of education. Remind them often that first and foremost, their ‘job’ is to work hard and do their best at school.
- As the session progresses, remember to stay in touch with your child’s teacher.
Many children find themselves home in the first weeks of school feeling grumpy, tired or hungry. Try tweaking the above routines to suit your child’s age and activities – and remember to give a warm hug, an empathetic ear and not too many after-school activities to help them cope better with their new, often exhausting back-to-school routine.