Love, Always

Back to school! Parents: 6 ways to help your child make a smooth transition into the new school year.

“All good things must come to an end” — and summer vacation is no exception.

But heading back to school can be a very good thing, too — and as a parent, it’s your job to help your child make a smooth transition into the new school year.

Here are 6 simple ways to do it:

1. Lead by example. Instead of moaning about going to work (“Ugh! Here we go. Another Monday.”) express your gratitude and enthusiasm (“All right! Another Monday! Let’s make it a great one!”)

Show your kids that shifting from “vacation-mode” to “work-mode” (or “school-mode”) can be very exciting. Try not to position the end of summer as “the end of fun, as we know it.” Emphasize that learning is fun, too!

2. Get back into a routine. At least one week before school starts, establish a bedtime for your child — and a wake-up time — on a “school schedule,” as if school has already begun. This will give your child a chance to re-adjust to the school schedule, which might be different from the one that was going on, during the summer months.

When your kid wakes up after a good night’s rest, he or she will be primed for a happy, successful day at school.

3. Talk about fears + feelings. If your child is anxious about going back to school, try to find out what’s bothering them. If they’re scared about the fact that there will be a lot to learn, reassure them that it’s all right not to know something, and encourage them to ask their teachers for help.

4. Monitor social media usage. Amongst older kids, cellphones, laptops and social media profiles are just as much a part of “school” as reading, writing and arithmetic. Social media can be fun, but it can also be a stressful place — full of bullies and mean girls, mocking and teasing. It’s also a place where older kids have an opportunity to express themselves — sometimes, in dangerous and inappropriate ways (like posting nearly-nude photos to gain attention and praise).

Monitor your child’s online activity carefully. And have a conversation with your child about what’s OK (and not OK) to do, online.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for teens to use: “I just typed something. Would my mom / dad approve, if she / he saw this?”

5. Get disciplined. I can’t emphasize this enough: children learn by example. If you want your child to be disciplined and do well at school, you need to model disciplined, responsible behavior at home. This might mean turning off the TV and having a family reading hour, instead. Or doing a fitness video at home, instead of flopping on the couch. Teach your kids good habits at home, and they will carry those habits right into the classroom.

6. Create structure at home. At school, your child is likely to have a lot of structure to get him (or her) successfully through the day — classes, recess, gym, lunch, more classes, and so on. At home, it’s OK to give your kid time to relax… but don’t let things get completely un-structured. Assign chores. Have regular mealtimes. Enforce bedtime. Set up weekly family activities (like movie night, or taco night) that your child can anticipate — and count on. By creating structure at home, you’re teaching your child how to be responsible and organized, and helping them to feel safe and cared for.

These practices will help you give your child the gift of a smooth transition into school. And later? A happy, smooth and successful transition into life… as a grown-up.

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PS. If you enjoyed this blog post … consider going deeper. Check out The Life Guide on How to Get Your Kids To Cooperate — And Help Them Become The Best Grown-Ups They Can Be for more tips, tools and practices to help you navigate how to gain your child’s cooperation and build his or her confidence, with grace.