It’s that time of year again when the summer comes to the end and the kids start heading back to school. Getting the latest stationary supplies, the coolest school shoes and the uniform can be the easiest part. For some of us, it’s the period of adjustment as we try to establish a routine that can be the most challenging.
Here are some great ways you can help your child and yourself ease back into the routine without too much chaos.
Break the summer sleeping habits
During the holidays it’s not uncommon for a child’s sleep patterns to be altered. Many kids stay up a little later and some sleep in longer and end up lounging around all day in their PJs. Adjusting to the school hours can take a few weeks, so making the transition slowly is ideal. Jennifer Garden, a registered occupational therapist with sleep consultant service, Sleep Dreams, recommends you move the bedtime earlier by half an hour every couple of days until you reach the target time. Garden recommends teenagers aim for 9 hours of sleep a night while younger children should be getting 10-11 hours.
Spend the last few weeks of the summer holidays getting back into the school-day rhythm. Start getting your children up and out of bed at the same time every morning. This will help you avoid dragging tired, protesting kids out the door when school starts. Putting into practice a routine similar to that of school even to the point of eating breakfast, lunch and snacks at a time similar time can ease them out of holiday mode and back into school mode.
Avoid last minute meal decisions by meal planning
There is nothing worse than the afternoon rush of finishing work, picking the kids up from school, getting the homework organized and then realizing you haven’t thought about or planned what to cook for dinner. Spending a little time on a Sunday to work out the next week’s meals and to do the majority of the grocery shopping can really pay off in the long run and assist with creating healthier meals. The key to getting your kids to eat healthy dinners according to Dr Lisa Young, a nationally recognized nutritionist, is to engage them in the planning process. Ask them to contribute by adding their favorite healthy meal or choosing a vegetable they actually like to eat rather than push around on their plate.
If you are super organized you can do this with school lunches too. This will help you ensure your kids are going to have a healthy and interesting lunch box rather than something you have quickly thrown together in the morning. Our tip is to think creatively about your dinners to use some of the left overs the next day in their lunch. Meals like pasta salad or a frittata can be cooked in large batches, last for a few days in the fridge and will certainly be a bit more exciting than a cheese sandwich!
Keep the dinner meal plan on the fridge and enjoy stress-free family dinners.
Touch base with your child’s teachers
Being actively involved in your child’s education can help ensure they get the best out of their schooling says Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman of the National Parenting Support Commission. Communicating with teachers will allow you to have a better understanding of the homework expectations as well as your child’s progress throughout the school year. If you have time, perhaps join the school’s PTA to play a role in your child’s school.
Encourage your kids to do their homework
Setting up a designated area within the home with your child is a great way to encourage them to enjoy homework. Let them choose the stationary supplies and organizational tools in their favorite color to make them excited about the space and feel it’s their special place in the house.
Discuss with you children a set time for them to sit down and do their homework each afternoon. If you find it hard for your child to adjust to the routine of doing homework, a kitchen timer can work as a great motivational tool. Set the timer to 20 minute blocks for homework with a 5 minute break for snacks, play and running around before hitting the books again.
Make a family wall calendar
Large wall calendars are extremely helpful when you have kids at school, especially when you have more than one. It’s great to get into the habit of filling in the calendar at the start of the school year to ensure you don’t miss out on any school functions, sporting events or important recitals. The moment you realize you’ve committed to a work function on the evening of your daughters ballet concert, you are going to wish you had an up to date family wall calendar.
A handy tip is to color code the type of events, or a different color for each child will help with the planning and get them involved.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your children ease back into school life after the summer break and avoid the chaotic mornings and sleep deprived kids!