It seems like all my clients can talk about these days is going back to school. They’re either super excited to see their friends and have recess time with kids their own age, or they’re dreading having to go back and get into a schedule again. As for my family, we’re working on getting our 5 year old ready for his first year of school and experiencing all of this for the first time. I’ve been coaching parents around the back to school transition for years doing in-home therapy, but it’s an entirely different thing to experience it myself.
In coaching, I’ve always focused on how to make the transition smooth for the child. Mimic the routine as closely as possible at home for a few weeks before school starts, make sure your child has had medical/vision checks to ensure they’re at the top of their game, be consistent with bedtime and wake up times, etc. Every child needs to adjust to getting back to school, not just my clients. Especially if you’re doing it for the first time, like I am right now, children need to know what to expect.
The part that I’ve been missing all these years of coaching parents is getting the parents themselves transitioned back to school. I always preach about how the work I do would be useless without parental coaching, but in this area I have been guilty of over-focusing on the child and forgetting the system they live in. I’m sorry. Here it is- parents need help transitioning, too. It’s a stressful time for the whole family and as the cornerstone of the family, parents set the tone for the experience of all. So how can parents adjust?
– Try mimicking the routine of school for yourself, as much as for your children. Address any problems right away.
– Give your children age appropriate responsibility for their own routine- most children of age to attend school can handle getting themselves out of bed with an alarm clock, or getting themselves dressed without reminders. Make these expectations clear and hold your child accountable.
– Create organizational simplicity in your home. A place for backpacks, a space for homework, a calendar of events for the family, etc. Adults benefit from some structure just as much as children do.
Finally, a reminder: every member of your family needs to have fun. Getting back into the routine in school often means cutting time from other activities. Please make sure to keep fun as a priority in your home and spend some time playing together every day. Don’t do it for your children, do it for yourself.