We know: back-to-school already? It’s tough to think about much other than this glorious summer that we’re now having, especially after a practically non-existent spring! But a little prep now goes a long way.
Here are our best tips to make back-to-school as little stress as possible, for both kids and adults who are returning to the classroom.
- Start the conversation NOW. But keep it fun! Talk about lunch planning, new school supplies (who doesn’t love that new backpack feeling?) and even spiffing up wardrobes for classroom comfort. By preparing early, and emphasizing the great parts about back to school, it’s not just kids that can get excited and love to do some early prep. Involve everyone in the conversation, by asking your family what they need to feel ready. Dad might need to prep coffee the night before, and kids bounce out of bed for their favourite breakfast.
- Inch back into September bedtime routines slowly. It’s sooo tempting to stay up late on these lovely warm summer evenings, isn’t it? But, that can make a sudden change to early bedtime difficult. Instead, the Moms in our Fraser Valley Continuing Education office suggest taking bedtimes back about 10 to 15 minutes earlier a night, so that you can start now to get up earlier, and already be into that routine by the time back-to-school begins. This includes things like getting breakfast planned the night before, laying out clothes, etc.
- Schedule a “prep week” the last few days before class starts. Try putting actual tasks on your calendar each day, like “go through my closet and pull out any clothes that don’t fit anymore”, “find my backpack and buy lunch supplies”, “do all my laundry”, and so on. Limiting the focus to one item per day makes it easy to achieve. Then, go to bed feeling like you’ve really accomplished something.
- Revisit the last school season, by re-reading their last report card, or being honest about what didn’t work for yourself. What were the areas of weakness? How can we feel ready for this? Have good, honest conversations about where improvement could happen. Do we need more time set aside for homework, to create a new home office for ourselves, or even arrange for more child care during the week so that we have more focused study or practice time?
- Establish goals around achievement other than just grades. Making small celebrations reminds all of us that our efforts matter. What if the first member of the family out the door most mornings that week gets to choose the pizza Friday night? And it’s not just for children: did you get all the kids into bed on time, the dishwasher loaded, and the vacuuming done? We think that deserves some serious Netflix time before bed. Bonuses can be about winning the right to make choices, or have more privileges – allowing kids to choose which meals to cook, who gets to ride in the front seat in the car, 1-on-1 time with parents, or treating ourselves to fancy drive-through coffee.
When children see their adults go back to school, it teaches them the value of lifelong learning, and that it takes organization and commitment. Your example is a gift to your family and to yourself!