Back to School: Preparing your Child for All Transitions
Another summer nearly gone means an entire year of learning about to begin. As hard as the transition back to having a structure can be for kids, there’s plenty to get excited about in the new school year. Focusing on all the new friends they’ll make and the skills they’ll discover is important to avoid any negativity around going back to school.
The prospects of a new school year should be exciting, but it’s not worth pretending the change doesn’t come with its share of challenges. When discussing a transition, it’s imperative to remember that back-to-school is a series of transitions for your child to get used to, and each should be tackled individually.
The Schedule Transition
Going back to a structured day is perhaps the biggest transition. It may seem like a hard sell but start emphasizing the comfort in routine and the positive feelings productivity creates. Remind your child of past academic highlights, such as when they got a good grade on a challenging test or their favorite school subject. Within that framework, you can get your child thinking about all the new successes they could achieve in the upcoming year.
Beyond generating excitement, sitting down and creating a visual schedule plan can make new classes less overwhelming once on the page. Free printable planners are the perfect way to look ahead with a plan in mind. Use daily planners to plan out those first days of school to give your child choices to make the day special, such as a special lunch or reward. Use monthly planners to give your child school breaks, family events, and sporting events to look forward to and boost enthusiasm for a busier schedule. A Stride K12 online school offers more flexibility in your child’s daily schedule and added opportunities for fun breaks throughout the day.
The Sleep Transition
With more daylight and warmer nights, the summer months lead to less structured bedtime and later nights. The back-to-school sleep transition requires the most discipline to avoid hectic bedtimes and groggy mornings. Generally, a gradual earlier bedtime is recommended. By starting about two weeks in advance and 10 minutes earlier each day, the normal school bedtime won’t feel unexpected. In turn, start implementing a gradual earlier wake-up time for a complete shift to the school session. Enforcing a bedtime routine, such as bedtime stories or electronic-free zones, guarantees that quality sleep will feel like a breeze in no time.
The Learning Transition
Studies show students lose 17 to 34 percent of the previous school year’s learning over the summer months. Although summer learning loss can be lessened all throughout the summer through reading and other educational content, the motivation to learn will be a hurdle with a full schedule. Before school is fully in swing, consider introducing educational videos and online activities into the summer days leading up. The learning transition, however, doesn’t end with the first day of school. The first couple weeks, or even the first month, of the school year, are normally an adjustment. Find what motivates your child and plan to integrate incentives into the school day until learning starts to feel like part of the reward.
The Social Transition
After a summer of uninterrupted play with friends, it’s beneficial to remind your child of the social opportunities the school year also provides. A fantastic motivator is the start of new extracurricular activities. Research shows that students are more engaged with school when they’re involved in sports or clubs. With the growing options for clubs based on hyper-specific interests, extracurriculars provide an opportunity for your child to connect with like-minded students. By associating extracurricular activities as part of the school day, the first day of school can also be the first day of new hobbies and friends.
The Material Transition
Back-to-school shopping with your child in tow is a surefire way to generate excitement. By including your child in the process, they’ll feel empowered and more eager to use the supplies they picked out themselves.
School shopping, however, can be a stressful burden. Analysts point to increased trends in inflation and increased spending plans putting a strain on school spending budgets this year. Be on the lookout for coupons, summer sales, and tax-free weekends in certain states. There are also plenty of distracting supplies you can eliminate from your list and can be an opportunity to educate your young learners on finance, establishing “needs versus wants.”
The Mental Health Transition
Even while you work to create anticipation for the school year, recognizing anxieties around the first day is equally important. Before diving in, the week leading up can be the perfect time to check in on mental health. Talk to your child and establish a clear line of communication to validate those feelings. Next, make a game plan for the upcoming year on how to implement self-care into the schedule and set up base goals to simplify school learning. Having the conversation now makes it more likely that your child will ask for help in the future and guarantee a promising start to a new year of possibility.
If your child struggles with the back-to-school transition, consider enrolling them in a Stride K12 online school for greater personalization and flexibility.