By Grapevine Staff Member, Carol Lunan (Carol is our Director of Family Supports and Services and in addition to her role as parent, has been teaching and supporting children and families for a long time!)
When my children were young, thinking about going back to school tended to be complicated. I love summer, so it was always a challenge to let go. I enjoyed having less routine and doing whatever we wanted to do, like swimming, playing in the woods, kayaking… you know. But as school time approached my kids were usually ready to see their friends again and establish some routine in their days. These transitional times can hold so many different challenges and positive changes for everyone…. even if all of you have been doing it for years. As a parent, it can be hard to hold all of this at the same time. There are some things that I think are important to keep in mind as you prepare for this new season.
- Consider some things that help you and your children prepare and make the transition easier. Prepare a homework station with your child, buy school supplies, get haircuts, prepare for fall clothing. You probably do many of these things already. It helps them to get ready.
- Make sure the kids are part of the process. How this happens will depend on their age. It can be as simple as talking to a 10 year old about the type of back-to-school haircut they want to get and where/when they want to go. A four year old can help to create a snack list and help buy the items on the list. The key is to give them some ownership of the process. Find a parent of a child the same age as yours and talk about the possibilities.
- Consider and establish routines that help make the transition smoother. Get everything ready the night before. Teach your child to pack their own snack the night before, lay out clothes for the next day, talk about what helps them after a long day at school and prep for that, for example: taking a bath, having a snack ready, spending time outside, anything that supports the transition from school to home.
- Help them find ways to know they are stressed and then how to reduce that stress. HERE is a link to an article with some fun breathing exercises for children (and us.)
- Listen, listen, listen. Give your children the opportunity to talk about whatever is happening for them, and let go of the idea that you need to fix it!
- Plan to spend time with the family. Consider family dinners, share a special treat after dinner, have a family campfire, play a game together, whatever works for your family.
- Remember that even if your family has started the school year many times over the years, for some children and parents this can be a stressful time, for others they begin with their arms wide open!! This transition will look different for each family and so will what you need to make it a gentle one.
If you are looking for more parenting support and connection including group and one to one settings, contact us.