As students return back to school there are several steps that can really help them transition back to school.
The first thing I recommend is to begin to get the kids back into a structure. About a week before school starts, I start having my kids go back to their usual school night bedtimes, I try harder to get them up in the morning so that they aren’t as exhausted. I try to have dinner at the same time as we would during the school year. I remind them of the chores (ie., “Walk the dog, Make your bed.”) and expectations they need to follow, so when everyone is back at school I am not adding what might feel to be more to my kids’ schedules, but reinforcing it. I think the first few weeks of school can be exhausting for kids as they try to navigate new teachers, peers, and routines. The more you can begin to move children towards your family routine, the easier the physical transition. Sleep is imperative to student success, followed by good nutrition. Brainstorm healthy snacks and lunch your child will eat during the school year so you can easily load their lunchboxes in the mornings.
Secondly, have your student practice their skills in a fun way. Pick up that summer reading book or a new book or a magazine of interest for the child and encourage them to read. Sitting and reading with a child (no matter how old they are) is so powerful. It helps model reading fluency and a love for reading. Playing math games like Bingo, having a student add up the cost of items in the grocery store, or do mental math problems to help students get back into thinking about math.
Thirdly, going back to school can produce anxiety. The best way to help with anxiety is to help your child visualize a successful day. Although you may not know your child’s specific schedule, there are some things that remain true for any classroom. Examples are a student’s positive behaviors such as saying good morning to a teacher, raising their hand to be called on, smiling, trying their best, being respectful, etc. According to author Lynn Lyons, anxiety needs a plan. Helping your student to visualize a successful day as they move from getting up thru their day at school to the transition home.
Meg Bamford is the Head of School at Radcliffe Creek School.