I know, I know… how can we be talking about back to school already, well, the transition from summer to school year can be tough for most children, and for some children, there may be more preparation involved in the transition. We have a few tips and tricks to help make this transition a bit smoother and they would be great for all children. It would be good to start these 1-2 weeks before school starts, but some may be started earlier if that is what your child needs.
During the summer months it is pretty common for sleep routines to get altered, staying up late — the evening sun and bonfires (hopefully s’mores too!), sleeping in (because who doesn’t love to wake up naturally instead of to a blaring alarm?), and just some good old family/friends gatherings. It is good practice to resume a school sleep routine 1-3 weeks before school starts, depending on your child and how easy or difficult bedtimes or mornings may be.
Besides sleep routines, you should have your child return to a similar schedule as school, meaning getting up, getting ready for the day, eating meals around the same time they will at school. If possible, have a couple of days planned where they will leave the house in the morning and return home around the time that they would from school, so they are getting used to that component of the school day.
For many children, their access to and time using electronics increases during the summer, especially on those super-hot days or those extra rainy days (we know we have had our share of rain this summer). Some children have a hard time transitioning from majority of their day spent watching television or playing video games to majority of their day learning and paying attention to others. Help ease them back to this type of day by decreasing use of electronics and increasing time reading, playing outside, crafts… anything that makes them use their own creativity and minds.
If possible, try to arrange play dates with some of their peers from school that they may not have spent time with over the summer, or with a new kid in the neighborhood. Let them start re-establishing those social connections and make the return to school a bit more “friendly” and exciting.
If you aren’t already, start reading to or with your child each day! If your child is old enough, have them read to you. If they are an emerging reader, have them read the words that they know and you can share the reading responsibilities and experience, ask them questions throughout — who are the characters, who is the main character, where are they, what do you see in the picture. If it is not a picture book, have them draw a picture of what they think a specific scene might look like or what the main character(s) may look like, what just happened, what do you think will happen next, how do you think the character felt. In the classroom, you child will be asked these types of comprehension questions regularly and the more exposure they get to it the more comfortable they may become with these types of questions.
Go shopping together for school supplies and let them pick out some or all of their supplies. If you have a budget and your child is able to… share that budget with them as have them pick out supplies remaining within that budget. It can help your child become excited about returning to school, as well as give them a bit of responsibility.
There is plenty of planning to do and let them be part of the planning… if you pack their lunches, have them come up with a menu of items that they would like for lunches and their snacks (most elementary grades have a snack time), and let them help come up with an after school schedule for homework and playtime. You can actually have them put together a visual schedule or calendar of meals/snacks and afterschool routines, this can get them prepared for writing down their assignments in a planner.
Talk about it
Talk to your child about school starting soon and make sure to keep it positive and exciting. You can start a 1 week count down to school (I am sure Pinterest has a TON of ideas for fun countdowns). Use the countdown to introduce the idea of school work by having a fun but challenging activity for them to have to sit down and do each day (one day a maze, the next a word search, or a color/cut/paste activity, or color by number… the ideas are near endless).
–Madonna Smith, MOT, OTR/L