we all know how emotional can be the back to school season. luckily there are some tips that can ease parents’ life and to smoothly deal with this period.
luckily, while some nostalgic feelings may arise with the end of long beach summer days with children, there are plenty of new projects and expectations to colour the beginning of another school year.
this eventually means getting back to school routines. some will say that we have to prepare all routines one week earlier the beginning of school, that we have to reproduce school activities schedule at home, that children should wear school clothes or uniform at home and plenty other ideas.
let’s be real: there is no such need for this strict approach. there are other approaches that prove to be much more harmonious to familiar routines and are equally effective.
during the year, most families have limited vacation time, limited daytime with their children, limited freedom to do what day want or need during the day. and also limited time to do nothing if they need.
so, no additional stress will better your life and, definitely, no additional stress will help your kids’ readiness for another school year.
what I would say to modern parents is that the healthiest way to prepare the back to school season is with a plan and tranquility.
the plan is simple. there is only one daily routine that has a fundamental role in the beginning of school and must be prepared. bed time.
a healthy sleep routine is key to success. as we all know, during vacation period there’s no sleep rules. go to bed time is variable as well as the wake up time. some of us may not admit it but we all know that this is true for the majority of our kids.
however, one to two weeks before going back to school it is necessary to take some attention to this point. sleep routines take time. and a healthy sleep routine takes at least a week to be set.
so I would advice parents to think a little bit about bed time before getting back to school and to pay attention to sleep time and wake up time one to two weeks before the beginning of another school year.
the remaining activities (to eat, to play, to go out to the park, to have family time, to go buy some school material that is necessary for children) should be done with tranquility, with a free schedule and without any stress on it.
but what happens when a new year brings major changes? what happens when there are school changes involved? if friends change schools? if there is a new teacher? if there are new extracurricular activities?
going back to school, in the majority of cases, is a cause of happiness to children. but sometimes changes might come hand in hand with emotions resembling adult anxiety.
this is why it is a need to reinforce communication. it is really important that parents pay attention to what kids try to express. that we talk with them about one subject at time and to calmly understand their perception about these changes.
our kids understand their lives anchored in few but uttermost significant parts - family time, eat time, sleep time, play time and school activities. needless to say, changes in any of these aspects can trigger the fear of the unknown.
some helpful strategies about these issues include sharing decisions with children since the very beginning. this does not mean that children must have an equal share in the decision making process, but a word to say. for instance, when deciding to change school it is important to inform the child that next year she / he will be in a different place. it is important to inform them if some of their old friends are also going to this school or if they know someone who is already in this school. if parents notice some behaviours resembling anxiety it is always a good idea to visit the new school and meet the professor or members of the staff.
another strategy regards decisions about extracurricular activities, an area where abundance of offer may in fact become overwhelming.
music, arts, sports. lots of options. avoid the recurrent mistake of deciding without listening to your kid. you can do it in two steps.
if your kid is 3-4 years old the only possibility is for you to make the decisions. however, be attentive and try to understand if this is pleasant to your children or just a burden to bear. there are few things that need to feel like this at this early age.
however, if your child is 4-5 years old there is a chance that you can open the decision making process a little bit more. first of all, it is up to parents’ to understand what activities are possible in the family routine. just make a list of them and try to ask your child which ones they want to try. there are some activities that have the possibility to be tried by children even before its beginning. that could be particularly interesting and avoid bad choices.
in this age all kids are trying to understand what they like the most. give them space to be enthusiastic about it.
whatever the change may be, just remember: the best strategy is to talk about one issue at a time.
try to understand which of the subjects are more difficult for your children and begin with it. try to show them some tranquility with the decision, to be confident and to transmit it to them. sometimes they just need someone that listens to them and to help them see how good these changes may be.
and don’t forget that new routines may open room for necessary adjustments that can always be portrayed positively. it is simpler than it may seem. just assume change as another beautiful step to a new great start.
ana silva is a graduated pediatric doctor from the university of coimbra and is currently the head of the pediatric department at CUF coimbra hospital and CUF viseu hospital. she is also a specialist in neonatal intensive care and last but not least, a powerful and inspiring woman. she constantly carries a CINCO lucky item, which allows her to be thus strong while remaining the sweetest with our kids!