For children - and some parents - the summer vacation flies by, and all too soon it's time to head back to school. As fall approaches, so does back-to-school stress. School children worry about everything from their new teacher to missing the bus or forgetting their lunch. The worrying can be especially bad for children going to school for the first time, or for those moving on to middle or high school.
Parents can help make the transition a fun and exciting experience. Share a story from your school days with your child. Did you go to school one day in second grade without your homework? Did you get teased in middle school? Did you get lost the first day of high school? Sharing these stories will let your children know that you have been through what they're experiencing and that you've lived to joke about it.
Here are a few additional tips for making the switch from summer to school go more smoothly.
While these suggestions are especially helpful when dealing with younger children, some of them will be useful with older ones as well.
A week before the first day of school, have your children start going to bed at their school-night bedtime instead of the summertime bedtime.
Establish a routine that includes taking a bath or shower, brushing teeth and relaxing with a book. Set an alarm clock for the correct wake-up time. This will help with fears of not waking up and missing the school bus.
To help establish those important bedtime routines, give your children something to look forward to.
They can brush their teeth with toothbrushes and toothpaste featuring characters from the popular videos or Woody Woodpecker and slip into fun pajamas sporting Curious George.
Make shopping for school supplies a family affair. Most schools provide students with a list of required items, but even these necessities can be fun to shop for. The wide variety of styles and themes to choose from lets children express their individuality.
If your child is worried about getting lost in a new school, arrange for a tour before the start of the year.
Use the tour to find your child's classroom, the lunchroom, the bathroom and other landmarks. If your child is riding the bus for the first time, do a dry run of the bus route in your car so your child knows what to expect.
Get in the habit of choosing school clothes the night before. This will help the morning get off to a calm start.
If your children pick their own clothes you'll avoid arguments about what they want to wear, and getting them dressed will be less of a battle.
Have your kids load up their backpacks the night before. Check for lunch money, library books, school supplies and anything else they may need. This eliminates a mad rush around the house in the morning looking for that misplaced homework.
Sometimes children need encouragement to develop new, more efficient habits.
For example, they're more likely to use that new backpack if they've had a say in picking it out. If your children take lunch to school, they can choose a matching lunch box as well.
All of these simple steps add up to a happy start for the school term, setting the tone for a successful year to come. Who knows? Your children may even look forward to the first day of school.