By DANA FERNANDEZ, OT
Help prepare your kids for the upcoming school year.
If you ask me, this summer definitely felt like a “real” summer, which is exactly what our kids needed after not having a “real” summer these past two years. We may be ready for our kids to go back to school, but our kids are probably not ready. I mean, can we really blame them? So, how do we prepare our kids for this upcoming school year? After all, we do hope that this school year goes by quickly so that our kids can once again enjoy summer break.
In order to make life easier for everyone, think about routines. What time do you want your child to go to bed so that they are able to wake up in the morning for school? What activities are expected to be done the night before or the morning of school? For example, should outfits be picked out the night before or in the morning? Should lunchboxes and backpacks be packed the night before or in the morning? Checklists or visual schedules may be helpful for establishing routines and expectations. Instead of waiting to change your child’s routine the day before school starts, begin having your child engage in their school year routine 1-2 weeks before school starts so that the first day of school is a piece of cake for everyone.
Visit their School
For children starting kindergarten, middle school, or a new school, take them on a school tour. If possible, show them their classroom, where they will be having lunch, and where they will be having recess. The more children get to see their school environment ahead of time, the more they will look forward to attending school. If you are allowed, play with your child on their school playground, or have a small snack in their lunch area. Find a social story about going back to school. Like us, going to any new place can be scary, and it can make us feel nervous and anxious. If we give our children the opportunity to visit their school ahead of time, we will help them feel less anxious, nervous, and worried.
If your child is planning on taking the school bus this year, help them become familiar with their bus. Take them on a walk and show them where their bus stop will be. For younger children, watching videos or reading books about children going on the school bus may be helpful in making the transition easier. Some children may be on the school bus longer than others, so think about letting them use the bathroom before they leave the house. If you plan or are not planning on riding the school bus with your child, talk to your child about that so that there are no surprises on the first day of school.
After a fun summer, children are probably not excited to go back to school. Even so, you can help get them ready by taking them shopping. Going to bed early may be difficult for children, but if you buy them new pajamas, a new toothbrush, or new bedsheets, it may just motivate them to want to get into bed early especially if that means getting to cuddle with their new stuffed animal.
Take your child shopping and have them choose what backpack, water bottle, lunch box, and shoes they will like for the school year. Your child will certainly be motivated to get out the door if they are able to take their new backpack and show off their light-up shoes.
If your child will be taking a lunch box to school, have your child help you decide what they would like for lunch. Giving your child choices, and even including a preferred treat, will certainly have your child looking forward to school.
If you are worried about your child having separation anxiety when school starts, try to talk to them. Let them know that first they will go to school, and then they will see mom and dad. It may be helpful to even tell them what you plan on doing after they come back from school (e.g., “First we will go to school, then we will go ride our bikes.”).
Sending a picture of yourself with your child to have in their pocket may also help them feel like they are wonders that are explained only by our Creator and are beyond amazing!
It was fun to visit Chichen Itza, and together Evan and I have also seen the Colosseum in Rome, another wonder. Evan has also been to the pyramids in Egypt. We both hope to visit a few more of the seven wonders; however, I hope that each day you consider the many wonders that surround you every day. Have an amazing August!