Prepare your child to go (back) to school
Summer break is a wonderful time for children of all ages to chill away from school routine, strict bed time and even home works for elder kids. For many children, the longer the break, the less excited they become in going back to school routine.
As parents, we kind of understand that fuss, but we also believe that it is that same routine that strongly contributes to their stability and discipline on the long run. It is not fun to follow a routine again, but once they blend into it, it will become their ultimate comfort zone!
So, what can you do to help your child feel excited about school again, or feel ready to go to school for the first time?
Here are the steps that you, as a parent, can follow to ease going (back) to school with your child:
1) Begin or ease back into bed time routine
If you have let lose the bed time restriction for your child during summer break, which is understandable if you are travelling or having different activities during vacation, then you need to begin going back to early sleeping hours at least a week prior to school day.
This week (or more) time can ensure that your little one’s body has developed a proper and a comfy rhythm, which allows them to get enough sleep and wake up fresh and energetic.
Here is a quick guide to the average number of sleep hours your kid needs:
|Age||Average sleeping hours*|
|Newborn: 0 to 3 months||14 to 17 hours|
|Infant: 4 to 11 months||12 to 15 hours|
|Toddler: 1 to 2 years||11 to 14 hours|
|Pre-schooler: 3 to 5 years||10 to 13 hours|
|School age: 6 to 13 years||9 to 11 hours|
* Source: sleepfoundation.org
It is worth mentioning that every child is different, and those hours can differ (more or less hours) depending on your kid’s body needs.
2) Start the day earlier than usual
You will need to somehow coach your child to wake up early in the morning, and begin being active in an early hour of the day.
If your child is anywhere like mine – the slower eater I have ever seen! – then you will need at least an hour, if not more, between getting them out of bed, giving them a quick shower, feed them breakfast, brush their teeth and have them dressed.
The sooner you begin with the morning routine, the faster they would adapt.
3) Good food = good health & energy
We are all guilty of giving our kids a bit too much of sugar at times. I know I am!
Treats are un-avoidable in some cases, especially when your child sees other kids having them during family or friends’ gatherings, or when you give them a little bribe to simply sit in their car seat and buckle up so you are not late!
Those type of foods can make your child fussy and hyper during bed time, and that can lead to becoming really tired the next day.
Try, as much as you can, to develop proper meal routine days before school begins. Include a variety of nutritious foods that can help your kid stay energised, fresh and happy.
4) Involve your child in preparations
If your kid is old enough to understand preferences (a toddler or more) then you can involve them in preparing for school supplies, clothes, snack box… etc.
Ask them what colour of school bag do they prefer, what cartoon character do they want on their water bottle, what kind of snacks they want to add in lunch box.
FUN TIP: You can add all school items in one colourful box and have their name on it, with a smily face, and place it next to their bed before school starts. This will make them feel excited about using those new stuff when school begins.
5) Speak about it and hear their concerns
Separation anxiety is one of the hardest emotional challenges that your child (or you) may have when school starts. The level of acceptance of being away from mummy and daddy differs from one child to another.
Little ones in their newborn or infant stage are unlikely to face such anxieties, however, older ones are more aware of the attachment with their parents and their surroundings at home. This fear will probably fade away while they grow up.
It is essential that you speak with your child about going to school.
If your child is going to day care/ nursery/ school for the first time, here are some helpful tips to consider:
- Take a tour with your child at nursery/ school a couple of times before school begins: this will help them get familiar with the place and not feel afraid when school begins
- Let your child meet their teachers: to create acceptance and friendly bond
- Speak about the FUN: the exciting activities and happiness they will gain at school
- Bring something from home: When school begins, let your kid take their favourite teddy bear, blanket, toy or even picture that he/ she is attached to at home to enforce the sense of safety and familiarity
- Involve older siblings: speak about how exciting school is with the older sibling, cousin or even friend in front of your child. This will tell them that they are not alone in this new experience
- Quick good byes, and long come backs: When you leave your little one at school, do NOT linger or stay longer than you should be. A quick hug and a goodbye kiss, and a long big hug and smiles when you come back to them
- Assure your child that you WILL come back: The first few weeks are the hardest for them. ALWAYS state that you will come back afterwards.
- Praise your child: A pat on the back with ‘GOOD JOB’ or ‘WELL DONE’ after you pick them up from school will give them a little sense of achievement, and will make your child – eventually – want to go back to school the next day.
For older kids who have been to school before, try to speak about the great activities they will be involved in again, meeting old friends and making new ones, the school plays they will be part of, the number of stars they will receive when they pass – and so on.
If your older child has other concerns or fears due to certain experiences they have faced the year before (like bullying, injury at sports class that caused embarrassment, old friends left school … etc), then you need to address those fears and try to mentor your child on how to feel better.
There is a solution for everything. Your kid depends on you for their emotional and mental stability, and you can always ask for help if the issue needs a professional intervention.
6) Relax, it is going to be OK
As a first-time mum, I was truly anxious about sending my little one to nursery for the first time. I was overthinking about every single little detail:
- Will my child feel that I have abandoned him and left him alone?!
- Can the teachers understand what my child wants on the spot, like I do?
- Is he going to cry and not be attended to?
- What if he hurts himself or falls and no one notices?
- Are they going to clean him up properly after changing his diaper??! (that was a big one)
- Will my kid eat enough at school?
- Will other kids eat his food, or use his water bottle and get him sick?
This is what overthinking looks like. It was tiring and unnecessary.
Your child is going to be just fine.
Nurseries or schools are specialised in child-care, and they are capable and dedicated to make sure that your child is safe and spends quality time in learning and developing new skills.
If you are giving yourself a mental breakdown, like I did, then you need to relax! If you have prepared well, then chances are everything will be alright. Your child will learn, have fun, make new friends and embrace to new change.
Take one step at a time, and just remember that you are not alone.