Parenting Tips and Tricks for Surviving the New School Year
Parenting in a new school year can be extremely stressful! Do you find yourself dreading back to school time for your kids? Maybe you are one of those “weird” parents who enjoy the downtime in the summer and do not look forward to the increased structure that comes with the fall. School time for some kids is a time of increased pressure and worry. Sometimes, even the expectations we place on ourselves as parents can become unbearable and unattainable. Finding small ways to make it through the adjustment to a new school year can be essential to keeping your family moving forward and in a positive space.
Keep reading for survival tips on making it through the new school year:
- One day at a time
Remind yourself, and your kids, that school is just another day. It may look different and have different components to it, but if you approach it with the perspective that it is just one day of many it becomes less intimidating. Remind yourself that you can handle one day at a time – and if this increment is too long try focusing on a few hours at time, one hour at a time, etc.
- Keep summer memories special
If your family enjoys summer time and the memories that can be made, think of a creative way to commemorate this summer. Make a scrapbook of your favorite moments. Create a memory box of items that represent fun experiences. Alternatively, just taking time to visit with each other about all the entertaining moments can help keep summer memories alive.
- Be understanding
As difficult as it can be for parents to acclimate to a new school year, it is even more challenging for kids. Remind yourself that kids now have a completely different schedule, a whole new set of expectations, and new interpersonal challenges to deal with – on top of the developmental changes that happen every year. Having empathetic parents who try to understand these challenges is so protective for kids.
- Ease into schedule changes
Let’s face it – summer is a time of lowered expectations. It usually has later bedtimes, less structured days, and probably even disjointed mealtimes. As you approach the school year, ease back into the new schedule. Take at least a week to start moving up bedtimes and wake up times, so little bodies are not in shock. Make a visual plan of what school day schedules will be like so everyone is familiar with and expects the changes.
- Establish school year routines
Not many parents find school supply shopping fun, given the crowds and lack of inventory stores usually have this time of year. Try to do school shopping early when possible, to avoid some of these stressors. Load up backpacks ahead of time and put them in a special place, to create a subconscious reminder of the upcoming changes in routines. If budgets allow for it, make it a routine every year to pick out a fun, new backpack ahead of time; try not to wait until all that is left are navy blue clearance bin backpacks. If your budget means reusing the same backpack every year, try creative ways to spice it up – sew on or iron on patches, a new keychain, etc. Predictable routines that are established ahead of time help orient kids (and parents) to what is coming around the corner.
- Rekindle relationships
Kids sometimes lose touch with school friends during the summer, and while this time of year can be an exciting re-connection for them, it can also be a little nerve wracking. Think about not having interacted with a colleague for several months – while you have lots to catch up on, the first few minutes are likely awkward. When this is combined with the other stress kids experience going back to school, it can have a big impact on their moods. Parents also have to adjust to a new teacher, new classroom expectations, and new homework methods. It can ease parents’ minds to go in ahead of the school year and touch base with teachers (or before school starts on the first day). Doing this outside of the school “meet and greet” times allows for more individualized attention and a greater likelihood that your children’s teachers will remember the interaction. Encourage kids to go a few minutes early the first day to reconnect with friends before class starts, or set up a time to do this before the first day of school (such as a back to school dinner at a casual restaurant, etc.).
- Don’t be afraid to get involved
Parents need to get involved in their children’s school. They need to be aware of the people in charge, the teachers’ perspectives on running a classroom, the curriculum, and the general atmosphere of the school. Don’t feel pressured as a parent to drop off and pick up silently. Spend time with teachers, observe the interactions in the school, ask questions. Doing these things outside of special school events is usually more worthwhile, because people will have more time and feel less distracted. Remember that these are your CHILDREN you are dropping off into someone else’s care for 6-7 hours a day. Make it a priority to become a well known face at school; this will help you better empower your kids for academic success for the long term.
Reminder for Parents
Academics are so important to our youth, and a successful school career hinges on numerous factors. Many of these factors are completely out of your control as a parent. This can be terrifying and worrisome for many parents, but by using these simple ideas you can feel more prepared for the start of the school year. Having a parent who feels equipped to handle a new school year only builds up kids to feel the same way!