Your child may feel excited or scared about starting school. Make this a smooth transition with routines that help your child become familiar with school and the new schedule as well as routines that help you stay organized to avoid last-minute stress.
What Is School Like?
It will be easier for your child to start school if she or he knows what to expect. Trial runs can take the edge off worrying about the new situation by making getting ready for school and being at school a bit more familiar. Your child might ask, “When will I eat?” “What if I need to go to the bathroom?” “May I come home if I don’t like it?” Try role playing each situation. Draw pictures that show how the day will go. Encourage your child to ask questions.
The School Morning Routine
School itself may be completely new, but there will also be a new way of doing things at home. Mornings will likely be busier. Talk through how school mornings and school nights will go and why it is important to stay on schedule. Make sure there is enough time to eat, brush teeth and hair, and get dressed without anyone feeling upset or pushed.
Set your timetable. Work backward. What needs to be done in the morning? How long will it take? What time do you need your child to be ready? How long will that take? Double that for the first few days. How much time do you need before your child wakes up? Do the math for all of this, then decide what time to get up.
Once you and your child are comfortable with your new routines, you probably won’t need to spend much time thinking about how to get everything done. Reaching that point of comfort depends on planning. If you want mornings to go well, use your evenings to prepare.
The School Night Routine
Give yourself enough time the evening before school to get everything done without rushing. Your school night routine is very important to the success of your morning routine.
Don’t give yourself a short night. You will probably need to get to bed earlier to get enough sleep. Set bedtime for you and for your child.
Then, decide what can be done the night before school. Set out clothes. Make lunch. Do this together. This is a great time to chat about expectations.
At the end of all of the preparations, allow plenty of time to talk then to read a story to wind down. If your child is anxious, you can introduce simple relaxation techniques like visualizations or attention to the breath. The book I’ve used for years with my children is Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children for Learning, Creativity & Relaxation by Maureen Murdock. If your child understands how to relax and calm down, simple techniques can be used during the school day as well.
When you have prepared well the night before, you can focus your morning positively on the excitement of school.
New Routines for Parents, Too
If you are sending your last or only child to school for the first time, you may also need to think through new routines for yourself. What will you do now? If you don’t have plans, the few hours of a half-day of school will sail by. Prioritize your time and use it wisely.
If you follow us on Facebook, you may already have read the article we posted on preparing children for a new school year. There are 15 excellent suggestions that will help every child transition from the freedom of summer back to school.