Labor Day is around the corner, and for most families, that heralds the unofficial beginning of autumn. The temperatures will soon change, the leaves will be showing their vibrant colors, and the school buses will be tying up traffic once again.
Many have already made the transition from summer fun and relaxed schedules to the endless list of things to do, adjustments to make, places to be, physical forms and exams to get, and much pouting and major meltdowns. That’s just the parents! Imagine what your children are going through as well.
That’s why we are honored to partner with Follett, a leading provider of education technology, services, and print and digital content, for the launch of their #FallBackToSchool campaign. We’re going to focus on how parents and children can prepare to head back to school with some veteran tips from our family that have always worked to help transition from summer to school fairly painless.
1. I’m Going to Be Late My First Day of School
A big fear for middle school and high school children (mine are no exception) is not being able to wake up on time for the first day of school, or not being able to adjust to the new time schedule so that they can get a good night’s sleep and be alert and engaging throughout the day.
We have an extremely relaxed schedule throughout the summer, so we begin our transition about four weeks before school begins. In our home when school begins, the boys are in bed by 9PM and lights, phones, and televisions are off by 10PM. So we start with 12AM/1AM for one week, the second week we move it back to 11PM/12AM, the third week we move it back to 10PM/11PM, and then finally the last week we’re on the 9PM/10PM schedule.
The first two weeks are always the worst, but by the time school begins, they are back on their normal sleep schedule and ready to take what comes next. If all else fails, there’s the I Can’t Wake Up! Alarm Clock app on Google Play that requires you to complete eight tasks before you can shut it off. (smiles)
2. I Won’t Be Able to Handle All the Homework
Being a bookworm, homework did not bother me much when I was in middle school and high school. I could spend hours lost in a history book and many times I would read ahead of what the teacher assigned simply to find out what happened.
My boys on the other hand, would rather be outside skating, hanging with their friends, or doing pretty much anything other than reading or doing homework. Two weeks before school begins, we start talking. We talk about the upcoming open house events at each of their schools, meeting their new teachers, getting their schedules, and going over what is going to be expected of them for the year.
School is rough – whether you love it or hate it – so we don’t try to put more pressure on the boys than they already have swirling around in their minds. What we do try to do, is help them formulate a plan that works for them. One son would rather get up really early in the morning to do his homework so it’s fresh in his mind for class, the other would rather do homework late in the afternoon or early evening after a nap.
The key to helping them handle the workload is understanding where your child’s strength and weaknesses are, and scheduling. One son of mine has had ADHD since kindergarten, and the minute he receives an assignment or needs to plan out a project, we need to write it down immediately. That’s where the academic planner from Order Out of Chaos comes in. When you write down everything that needs to be done, and block out your time, it really does help reduce the stress levels.
3. Bullying, Cliques and Friends
If you have a child that is an extrovert and considers someone they met 10 minutes ago a “friend” then you probably won’t need to worry about this as much as the parents of an introvert. During middle school, and even into high school, friends will come and go. Helping your child to adjust to a best friend who has moved away, or suddenly has decided to be friends with another group of children, is a very real concern.
You’re child is going to find himself/herself in a clique at one time or another throughout their school years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cliques are made up of 2 to 12 people (typically consisting of five to six people) that share the same interests and values, and helps your adolescent develop a more subtle way to categorize their peers and interpret social interactions.
Unfortunately, there are some cliques whose sole purpose is to command the top status of the school, and those who don’t share the same interests and values as they can fall victim to the “mean girls” or become the target of bullies. Talk to your children on a regular basis about these issues and be aware of any changes in their mood or behavior. A child who comes home in tears each day, or suddenly develops severe headaches or imagined illnesses to avoid going to school in the morning could be the target of a mean girls clique or a bully. Bullying has a zero tolerance in almost all schools, so urge your child to report what is happening to the proper people at school, or discuss the matter yourself with the school administration.
4. So You’re a College Freshman
Heading off to college is an exciting time for your child, and a somewhat traumatic time for you, the parent. Your child is going out on their own, will most likely be away from home, and will be responsible for him or herself almost entirely. You won’t be there to remind them to study, to keep their room clean, to wake up on time, to go to bed on time, to eat right – everything is going to be squarely on their shoulders.
What you can do is make sure that they have the Top 10 Essential Items before heading off to college. Follett put together this handy infographic to tell you exactly what those items are to make shopping a breeze!
Stop worrying mom and dad! You’ve raised them well, you’ve taught them how to be responsible, enabled them to take care of themselves (even when they don’t always act as though they can) and it is finally time to cut those last remaining remnants of the thread that binds them to you and allow them to fly. There is nothing wrong with being there with a safety net, waiting in the wings, but you have to let them go so that they can put to use the education you’ve given to them at home about life.
Send them off to school armed with everything that they need to succeed, a great breakfast and a protein-packed, nutritional lunch to get them through the afternoon slump is an excellent beginning. You know your child best so just listen and see what is going on with your child throughout the school year. Discuss different scenarios and resolutions ahead of time, help them to develop good study habits and you will have armed your child with the tools they need to make their transition from summer break back to school as anxiety-free as possible and the #FallBackToSchool routine one they will enjoy.