Transitioning Back To School After Summer Break
There is nothing fun about having a unstructured summer, sun, and open ended schedule to going back to school that fills like the total opposite for kids. Now I know us parents enjoy it, finding camps and things to do in and out of the city can be tough. Grouped with the extra energy around the house and no one to tag you out. Either way it can be challenging for all parties involved.
This was my first year off with both my girls and I must say there was nothing I could have done to prepare for it. It was an indescribable feeling having the freedom of enjoying my children in a way that allowed for me to bond, create the type of lifestyle that I saw fit without the constraints of work, school, schedules, and time slots. And we did exactly that. We woke up when we wanted, we chose the type of fun we wanted to have day by day, and enjoyed the ideal of stillness. We made the most of it, and there was not one moment I took for granted....BUT when I tell you at the end of summer I was exhausted, I was TIRED. And even though I was tired, there was something in me that didn't want it to end.
I begin to feel my anxiety increase as I knew back to school was approaching and I needed to return to work. Honestly I just didn't want my freedom to end, and if I felt that way, I knew that both my daughter's were feeling it too. They had never had their mom in this way. Fully focused on the art of parenting, and forever trying to be presence in each moment. I contemplated even returning, and mapped out an ideal to my recently graduated husband who stated..."we just aren't there yet." So both me and the girls couldn't avoid it....it was going to happen rather we liked it or not. And the funny thing about time is that no matter how much we would like it to stop, it just keeps on going.
So the same tips I adopted for myself I wanted to share in hopes that it helps the transition from summer to school go a little bit more peacefully for both parent and child....
- Acknowledge and validate your own anxiety- there is nothing worst than trying to shut out a feeling that is there. Give yourself permission to worry or to not be ready. It's okay to be attached to the idea of having your children home, or the freedom that summer brings. On the other end if you are excited they will return- gloat in that as well. Parents jobs are not easy, school allows for an additional support. There is nothing wrong with needing or wanting help from your village, and school should be apart of your village. And let's e honest we can not all afford the opportunity to be stay at home parents, or even want to for that matter. All in all try to maintain a positive attitude because children will feed off the energy you give. If you are worried, they become worried and that can become a bigger issue when school starts.
- Validate your child's anxiety- Talk openly with your child about what they are feeling. Allow for them to share their stressors and ideas on what they need to help prepare for school. It can be anything from help with using the potty, to not knowing how to unlock a locker. Let them know you are there as a resource to help even if they act like they don't need it, because we all know they do.
- Go back into routines and schedules slowly- Don't try to go straight back into school mode with rigorous schedules. It can be tough being use to staying out after dark, to getting up in the early AM. I like to start about a week before school starts with putting the girls down at the time they would for school. I started a plan where everyday we did 10 minutes earlier so that when it was time to go back to school they were going to bed at a decent time. Therefore their body had time to get use to it, as well as their mind. I also buy Kennedy (10) a planner where we begin to prepare and have fun creating her to dos, and task to be completed to get her mind back into the mood to use time management skills. With Karter (3) we read tons of books that talk about school, her teacher actually came to my house to visit, and she went to see her class. I didn't want her to be shocked by the idea of starting preschool. So the more pre planning you can do, do it!
- Still have fun!- Just because summer is over doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying outdoors, free play, and all around fun. Allow your child to still go outside especially because the weather is still warm, enjoy after school time together, and find ways to continue to be creative with your child's use of time. I love that my oldest daughter school has gotten rid of the concept of homework. They believe after school time is better spent enjoying moments with family which to me is far more valuable then continuing with course studies.
- Chart it up- provide visual cues, incentive charts for rewards, chore charts, and other helpful reminders. Kids can be very robotic in the sense that they enjoy doing the same things over and over because they feel safe and know what is to be expected. Allow them to have the sense of independency but with support with visuals along the way. Have fun creating them together, and do practice runs! Make going back to school fun, but have goals be maintainable and timelines be realistic.
- Spend individual time with your child daily- I give myself a minimum of 15 minutes where I give my undivided attention to each child. You would never know how much this can increase a child's positive behavior. Try to do it at a designated time when you know you are available, allow your child to decide what they want that time to look like, and just bond. No phones, no pictures, not a lot of questions, just pure love and undivided attention. This is a great way for children to get out of school mode, and allows them to just be your child, and sometimes that feels like an impossibility, so make it happen!