Taming the School Year Chaos

Published August 6, 2018

How did it happen so fast? One minute everyone was playing outside and staying up too late, and the next minute they are back in the classroom. The first several weeks of back-to-school time can be a tough transition for the whole household, but you can make the most of it by being rested, establishing routines and staying positive.

Get Some Zzzzzs

Summer schedules play havoc with sleep patterns, and no one really wants to face the reality of getting up early to go to school after months of staying up late and sleeping in. Kids need about 10-12 hours of sleep a night, so let that be your guide to an appropriate bedtime. If they’re having a tough time making the switch to an early alarm, consider some quiet reading time before bed (which will also be great for their reading skills), and turn off all electronics 30 minutes before shut eye. A casual creeping of the bedtime back by about 10 minutes a night will be helpful to everyone. In the early weeks of school, they’ll probably be so exhausted by their new environment and schedule that they may need a little more sleep-in time on the weekends to catch up.

Go for Some Same Old, Same Old

Routines are vital to achievement during the school year. If you haven’t already established a homework time and quiet place for school work, do it now and plan on keeping it strongly enforced for the first several weeks until the habits are in place. The spot doesn’t have to be elaborate—if space is tight, designate a towel or small blanket and have that be the moveable homework place. Pair that with a little bag with the homework essentials—a pencil and sharpener, paper, a small timer for staying on task, and a few snacks for fueling the brain—and they’ll be homework-ready no matter the location.

Here are a few more routines that are just as easy to maintain as they are to establish:

Breakfast will get everyone off to a great start to the day, so stock up on easy-to-make breakfast options, because mornings can get frantic.
If your kids split time between households or go to an after-school care program, try to coordinate the routines for as little disruption as possible.
Setting aside clothes for the week will help you immensely when trying to get out the door. You can store them in big reusable ziplock bags or in a hanging organizer, which will make getting dressed easy even for the little ones.

Put a Smile on Your Face

New teachers, new classrooms and sometimes even a new school can ratchet up the stress and apprehension for parents and kids alike. Keeping a positive attitude with both your kids and their teachers can work wonders!

If you have special tips or thoughts on how to best interact and engage your child in the academic realm, take the time to write, call or email their teacher and share your insights with them. You know your kids better than anyone and are their strongest advocate.
Take the time to talk things through with your kids in the evening or before the school day. Asking open ended questions will allow you to dodge the vague “fine” or “okay” answers. Aim for details by leading with questions such as “What did you have for lunch today?” or “Who did you sit with during science?” and you’ll find the answers blossom.
If your kids are reluctant about their new class during those first few weeks, encourage them to take it day by day and plan a few play dates with new friends. Sometimes a wonderful new friend can make all the difference in the world.

There is a lot to love about a new school year and a lot of transitions to make. By staying positive, establishing a few simple routines and making sure to get some rest, you will all get off to a great start…and find yourselves wondering where the time has gone when suddenly it’s Christmas break!

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