It’s nearly 9 p.m. and there’s still a little light in the evening sky. It may be tempting to let your child stay up later, even as the first day of school looms in the not-so-distant future. But Arlene Meyer, MD, a pediatrician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station said that may not be the best way to help your child transition back into school-mode.
“Kids need a little bit of preparation, a little bit of getting ready time,” Dr. Meyer said. “It makes a little better transition for the school year.”
Start a month in advance and gradually lower your child’s bedtime. And get them up earlier in the morning.
“It also helps for them to go outside and have some exposure to daylight because that makes it easier to go to sleep at night,” she said.
While getting your child on a more school-friendly bedtime schedule, it is also important to make sure they are scholastically ready to go back into the classroom.
Dr. Meyer suggests having children read — even if it is a magazine or a book about a sports figure. And brush up on their math skills with practical applications.
“We can have them help us do things like cook or keep up with bills,” she said. “We want to introduce the practicality of what they’ve been learning in school and move it over to the real world, so they don’t feel like they’re doing school all summer.”
And for those students who are feeling a little nervous about going back to school, Dr. Meyer said getting the child familiar with their new surroundings is key.
Walking around the school building, checking out the playground and attending meet-the-teacher nights will help your child feel a little more secure.
“A lot of [children] need to know where they’re going, what it’s going to be like and who’s going to be there, so they can feel a little more control over the way things are going to be,” she said.
Some middle and high schools even offer students the chance to find their classrooms when they go to pick up their schedules.
Dr. Meyer said reading books or just talking to your child about what will happen at school might also help ease apprehension.
Tips for Transitioning Back-To-School
The National Association of School Psychologists also offers a few tips to parents who are trying to help their child make the summer vacation to school transition.
Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health
Schedule doctor or dental checkups ahead of time and discuss your child’s health with his or her pediatrician.
Mark your calendar
Make a note of important dates like registration days and back-to-school nights.
Buy school supplies early
Fill backpacks a week or two before school starts. If your child’s school offers a checklist, make sure you have a copy to check off important supplies.
Turn off the TV
Encourage your child to play quiet games, do puzzles or read as an early morning activity, instead of watching TV. This will help ease your child into the learning process and school routine.
Minimize clothes shopping woes
Buy only the essentials. Summer clothes are usually fine during the early fall. But be sure your child has at least one pair of sturdy shoes. Also, make sure new clothes fit your child’s school dress code.
Designate a clear place to do homework
Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring and encouragement.
Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes
Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see.
Freeze a few easy dinners
It will be much easier on you if you have dinner prepared so that meal preparation will not add to household tensions during the first week of school.