It is now that time of the year when children are returning to school. They will be in new classes, have new teachers, and make new friends. For some children, they may also be attending a new school.
The yearly transition after a long and mostly unstructured summer can be an adjustment for some children. There are several things parents can do to ensure a smooth transition and a successful academic year. These include:
1. Create a bedtime and morning routines. Many households experience chaos, power struggles, and fights almost daily because of inconsistent bedtime and morning routines. It is crucial to establish routines to ensure that children are well-rested and less stressed in the mornings. Moreover, through consistent routines, children learn to be responsible for their own behavior, feel capable, and are more cooperative with family members.
Bedtime routines include activities such as baths, storytime, preparing the clothes for the next morning, packing of snack boxes, and book bags. To maintain a successful schedule, parents should create a routine chart with their children so that they have a clear understanding of their responsibilities before bed.
To reduce stress and fatigue, it is also important for children to go to bed around the same time every night during the school period. When setting the sleep schedule, parents must bear in mind the time their children must be at school, and the number of hours rest their little ones need. For example, two to three-year-olds need 10 to 12 hours of sleep; four to five-year-olds need 10 to 13 hours; six to 10-year-olds need 10-11 hours of sleep, and older children need approximately 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night.
It is helpful also to have a consistent morning routine to ensure that everyone is dressed and out the door in time for school without stress and hassles. Similar to the bedtime routine charts, parents are encouraged to have a morning routine chart to keep their little ones on schedule. Also, to reduce morning hassles, parents should aim to complete tasks that can be done the night before, such as arranging school clothing.
2. Create an afternoon schedule. It is also essential to have a structure for children after school. The afternoon schedule may include the length of time for watching television or using electronic devices, homework time, unstructured playtime, alone time to unwind, family time, and dinner. A predictable and consistent schedule create an atmosphere of security and trust, which are related to good behavior.
3. Validate your children’s feelings. The transition to a new class or even a new school can be daunting for any child. Many may feel anxious, nervous, afraid, or even sad. As parents, it is important to acknowledge our children’s feelings and show that we understand the emotions they are experiencing.
4. Become more sociable. To help children with the transition, parents may need to become more sociable, which means getting to know the other parents in their children’s classes. Invite these parents over for lunch, picnic, or dinner with their children, and arrange playdates. Socializing outside the school environment may help children with creating new friendships and alleviate the fears they may have.
5. Build a relationship with teachers. Have a strong and healthy relationship with your children’s teachers. Let them know that you are in partnership with them, and they can notify you immediately regarding their concerns. Also, regularly ask them what you can do at home to help your children adjust well to their classes.
6. Get involved in the school. One of the best ways to support your children is to get involved in parent-related activities and volunteer at the school. Volunteering at school gives you a peek into your children’s daily life. It also improves the connection you have with your children because your volunteerism communicates that you care about their well-being and the school’s success.
7. Stay connected. Children must know that their parents are a safe space for them to express their thoughts and emotions. Have regular conversations about their day, friends, and school. One of the best ways to stay connected is to ask curiosity questions and listen attentively to their responses. Children are more willing to open up to others who have proven to have an interest in their lives without judgment and lecture.
8. Help them learn from mistakes. Unfortunately, the current academic environment communicates the expectation of perfectionism from children, which makes it challenging for children to overcome failures. As a parent, it is necessary to teach that failures and setbacks are learning opportunities. Do not chastise or ridicule their mistakes; instead, ask them what they were attempting to achieve, what they learned, how they will do things differently, their plans to implement the changes, and whether they need your help. Taking this approach helps children to feel capable, competent, and confident in themselves to overcome setbacks.
9. Be patient. For many children, the first six to eight weeks back at school can be the most challenging. Be patient and supportive as they adjust to their new curriculum and classroom. Reach out to the school counselors or a therapist for help, if you observe your children having adjustment challenges after three months.
10. Prepare for the emotional storm. Similar to adults, children experience a complex array of emotions, especially in new environments. Your children may regularly experience high and low emotions. Help them identify these emotions and teach them how to manage them. Most importantly, do not take their outbursts personally.