It is that time of year again! Back to school can be as exhausting as it is exciting. I hope you find the following tips helpful in making your family’s back to school transition as smooth as possible.
If your family is anything like mine, bedtime was a bit less structured over the summer. Everyone needs rest to be ready for the day (including moms and dads). A great way to get back on track is to set a bedtime alarm on your phone and start bumping your bedtime routine back about 10 minutes each night. Do this until you get back to “school bedtime” and that means sleeping children by about 8:30pm. This includes weekends! In fact, children need a solid 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night to be successful and ready for an academically challenging day.
Preparation is key to a good morning. Try to prepare as much as possible the night before with your child. Lay out clothes, pack snacks, fill water bottles and place a ready backpack by the door. All these little actions will help your child be ready in the morning and it will help you not forget anything. Most classroom teachers send home a newsletter or calendar of events. Be sure to put this on the fridge and check it every evening. Additionally, our family also reviews this list on Saturday morning, so we can make it to the store or grab needed supplies during the weekend. Small time savers add up to a smooth morning when time is precious, and you need to get out the door.
Highs and Lows
During this time of transition, your child needs you more than ever. I am not talking about quantity of time spent together, it really is about the QUALITY of time you spend together. For instance, take a short walk, plan for time side by side on the couch to talk, or just slow down at dinner time and sit together. Talk about highs and lows from the day. Ask, what was fun today? What was challenging? Follow-up by asking, what did you love most or what lesson was interesting? What made you sad or what was frustrating? Then ask, what did you not like about your day? Open ended questions like these start conversations and spark real connection with your child.
This quality time strengthens the foundation of your relationship. Your child is becoming more independent and will spend more time away from you; take time each day to reconnect and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly. This practice will be why your future teenager turns to you when there is a problem instead of seeking advice from the world.
Connecting Home and School
Parents are essential partners with teachers in education. Research studies show parents are children’s first and most important teachers. Moreover, it is critical to connect with your child’s teachers early in the year. This is true even if your student does not “struggle” in class. Teachers need to know you support their efforts and will be there any time they or your child needs you. When children see and know their families are involved in their education, children are more engaged in the classroom. As a family, you can reinforce teaching strategies being used in the classroom which will also help your child learn and grow. As the back to school season gets under way, reach out to your teacher today through a text, an email, or a phone call. Let them know you support them and ask how you can help.
I hope your year is off to a great start! If you need additional resources or information on getting your preschooler ready for kindergarten, visit www.brightonpreschool.org
Michelle Rivera, M.Ed.
Mom to girls (5,7 and 20 years old)
20+ years in Early Childhood Education
Vice President of Education, Brighton Center