September is approaching, and whether this summer was relaxing or stressful (or a combination of both!), it is slowly coming to an end. It’s normal for kids and their parents and caregivers to feel a mix of anticipation, curiosity, and maybe even dread about what the new school year might bring.
Here are seven creative ideas and activities to do with your kids, to prepare for the transition from summer days to structured school days. To start this new school year on a positive note, we suggest a focus on connection, routines, and helping your child make their own choices.
Reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. Ask your kids about their favorite summer memories, and create some artwork together illustrating their standout summer moments. You can also co-create some hopes and dreams for this year with your child. One idea is to make a paper chain to count down to the start of school – tear a link off the chain each day, asking your child to name something they are looking forward to about school.
Co-create strategies for new morning routines with your child. Early bedtime routines and after-school routines will also be more effective when your child is involved in creating them.
Create opportunities for choice. Providing young people with opportunities to make decisions about their school experience will aid in buy-in and help set up a joyful return to school. It can be as simple as choosing their own back-to-school first day outfit or backpack.
Practice introductions with your child. After almost three years of living in a virtual world or seeing each other only in masks, in-person socialization can be stress-inducing. Practicing possible social scenarios can help ease anxiety for young people and help them shake off first-day-of-school jitters.
Prioritize connection. The beginning of the year can be hectic for parents too, as they navigate thick back-to-school packets, new schedules, and managing a wide range of emotions during the transition. It’s important to continue to connect with your child and ensure their feelings are being heard and validated throughout this busy process. Try implementing 5 minutes of uninterrupted connection time in the morning – even five minutes can go a long way.
Trust in your own and your child’s resilience. Each year is always a whirlwind of acquiring school supplies, orienting to new teachers, and tending to your child’s feelings about the transition. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your own feelings during the process, and trust your child is resilient and ready!
Reach out and connect with your school community. Your school community is there to support you and your family, and your child’s educators are eager to connect with you and integrate your family into your school community.
Transitions can be stress-inducing, but by prioritizing connection, routines, and helping your child make their own choices, returning to school can be an exciting and positive experience.
COVID is still an issue. The US Department of Education offers this checklist for parents to consider when preparing to return to school.
During the school year we offer free 2-hour parenting workshops to help you connect and strengthen your relationships with your children. Check out our workshops page for upcoming dates and subscribe to our newsletter for helpful parenting tips and resources.
Kayla Blau is a Sound Discipline Facilitator.