As the last days of summer vacation come to an end, many kids cling to every moment, dreading the day they have to get up and make their way to school. Many parents, meanwhile, cheer silently, excited that there will be something to keep their young ones busy once more.
Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum, the truth is that moving from the long, languid days of summer to the structured school schedule can be rough. This year, make that transition easier on everyone.
1. Manage anticipation
Kids of all ages feel anxiety about the first day of school. The great unknown of classes, teachers, friends and schedules can result in stress before the school year even starts—and this can be especially true of students who are starting at a new school. Talk with your kids about new experiences—everything from using the bathroom at kindergarten to opening a locker in middle school—and attend any pre-school fairs or visitation days that are available.
2. Celebrate the end of summer
Plan one last family getaway or weekend activity to cap off an awesome summer vacation. Take time to let everyone reminisce and share their favorite memories from your time together over the last three months. Make sure you leave at least a few full days between the end of this getaway and the first day of school.
In the days leading up to the start of school, start to ease off on the over-stimulation. Instead of attending over-the-top pool parties and going to a local amusement park for the day, enjoy a barbecue with a couple of friends or pack a picnic for lunch at a local park. This is also a good time to put the kibosh on naps and establish and implement an appropriate bedtime.
It's time to put those bad summer snack habits to rest.
4. Touch base with friends
Between summer camp and family vacations, it's easy for your children to lose touch with their friends from school. Plan a playdate with kids' friends so they can catch up and reconnect. Having a familiar face at the forefront can make the transition to the first day of school much easier.
5. Schedule a doctor's appointment
You know the schedule will be packed once the school year gets going, so make a point to see the doctor and dentist now so you can knock those off your to-do list. Make sure your children are up-to-date on their immunizations, and, if your students will be playing on a school sports team, pick up an athletic packet prior to the scheduled physical examination.
6. Assess the clothing situation
Take stock of any new clothes and shoes your children need for the school year, and then hit the stores. Shopping for clothes with kids can be stressful, so it helps to go with a specific list of needed items in hand.
Share your happy school day memories with them to help get them excited about the year ahead.
7. Prep the family calendar
If you thought summer went by fast, just wait until the school year starts. Pencil in your kids' practices and activities, and if they discovered new hobbies or interests over the summer, develop a plan to integrate them into the school year. Also, make note of any teacher in-service days that are coming up in the next few months, and look to the holidays ahead. If you're planning on traveling for Thanksgiving or Christmas, now is the time to start planning.
8. Hit the grocery store
It's time to put those bad summer snack habits to rest. Stock up on supplies for healthy school lunches and after-school snacks. It's easy to fall back on fast food and to-go treats if you don't have healthier options on hand. And, if your family has been enjoying late morning bowls of sugary cereal, it's time to put some effort into a more nutritional breakfast menu.
Whether your children will be walking, cycling or taking a bus to school, spend some time experiencing the trip before the school year starts. Make the trip to and back from school a few times with your kids, and talk about how to handle any safety concerns that might arise.
10. Face your own fear
Kids can sense when their parents are anxious. If you are stressed and fearful about the first day of school, your children will be too. Share your happy school day memories with them to help get them excited about the year ahead.