Tips for parents: How to make the start of school less stressful?

School holiday is almost over!  For many children and their parents this means getting back into the routine.  Given summer school holiday is a long break period, getting back into  routine can be difficult for many children and their parents and it will take some time.  Here are a few tips to help make going back to school easier for you and your children.

  • Resume a School Sleep Schedule at least a week before their first day back to school.   Gradually get the children to go to bed and get up as if they were going to school a few days prior to the first day back to school.  Get them up in the morning to do fun activities physically such as going for a walk, having a few laps of swimming in the pool (if you have one), making breakfast together or bike riding etc.   These activities help get the children ready for that first day back to school and make the transition easier.  The first few days may be difficult, but in the long run the children will get used to getting up in the morning.  By the time the first day of school comes around, you will be surprised how ready they are!
  •  For younger children,  prepare them for a familiar environment (which they may have forgotten)  or re-introduce the new one.  If you have information sent to you from the school about starting the new school year, new class, new teacher etc, the information can be made into a story book for your children to remind them about their teachers, classmates, school rules, classroom rules, which bus to catch etc.  This can help remind them of the routine(s) and may also help reduce their anxiety.
  • Visit or drive by the school with your children,when and if you have an opportunity to do so.  By seeing the classroom and their  teachers, their anxiety may be lessened.
  • Involve your children in getting ready for school through planning it with them.  For example, when you go shopping for books, new school uniforms, shoes and other school supplies, help your children write a list they need for school and let they pick their own supplies. Give older children to do their own simple budgeting – to practise their maths skills.
  • Plan well ahead.  To reduce your own stress, make a checklist of things that you need to do and check each item off as you complete them.  Don’t let your stress become your children’s.
  • Encourage your children create momentos of fun summer holiday to remind them of the summer.  For many children, the end of fun summer holiday can be a sad time.  Help them create something meaningful (e.g. scrap book, photo album, drawing, collage etc) of their memories.  Encourage them to make something for someone special that they will miss.  Cherish good memories, they will stay with your children indefinitely!

Next week I will share a few tips on how to help children with Autism transition back to school as well as tips on how to talk to your children and adolescents about school.