BACK TO SCHOOL TRANSITION CHECK LIST
HABITS & ROUTINES FOR A SMOOTHER SCHOOL YEAR
by Bernadette Verzosa
BEDTIME & BREAKFAST
Many families relax bedtime rules over the summer. In anticipation of the first day of school, try to gradually structure a sleep schedule back into the night. Wind down a little earlier each day. Even if your children are not able to fall asleep right away, you can encourage rest and relaxation by changing into pajamas and reading books in their bedrooms by a certain time. Doctors recommend anywhere from 10-13 hours of sleep for preschoolers, 10-11 hours of sleep for elementary school children and 8-9 hours of sleep for teenagers.
The proper amount of sleep is critical to a successful day. Also important is a nutritious breakfast. Both can contribute to children’s ability to concentrate, their energy level and their mood. Try to gradually wake up a little earlier each day leading up to the first day of school so you have enough time for breakfast.
STUDY NOOK AND TV RULES
The end of the summer is a perfect time to choose, even decorate a study area with your child, a designated spot for them to quietly concentrate on their books.
This is also a perfect time to establish television-viewing rules. Many families limit school year TV to weekends only. Others limit to a maximum of one show per day. Whatever you choose for your family, consider the time it takes to complete homework and attend after-school activities including sports.
CREATE TIME FOR CONVERSATION
Less TV often translates to more time for dialogue. Make it a habit to ask your child about the highlight and low points of each day. You can lead by example by talking about what happened in your day â€“ what you enjoyed, and what upset you. Opening this line of communication can make it easier for children to express their anxieties. When sharing details of the day is the family norm, children may feel more comfortable talking about problems that pop up in school.
You can plan lunch and dinner menus weekly, and stock up accordingly. Being organized about meals will save you time in the morning rush and save you trips to the supermarket. You can even prepare school lunches the night before. Have healthy snacks handy like apples, bananas, carrots and grapes – you can set up your kitchen to make it more likely that your kids reach for fruits and vegetables instead of junk food when the munchies strike.
PEDIATRICIAN VISITS & FLU SHOTS
Check in with your pediatrician. Eye exams and other routine tests can catch conditions that may affect a child’s performance at school.
Make sure immunization records are up to date and you have the necessary health forms filled out for sports and other activities. Some doctors’ offices already offer the flu shot in August, and the vaccine is designed to protect your child from the illness the entire school year.
Logistics can be intimidating, especially for children attending a school for the first time. Leading up to the first day, parents can drive to the school with their children and walk around the building. If the school hosts an open house, you can take the time to meet the teacher and wander the hallways. While walking around in the school, point out the locations of the cafeteria, even the restrooms, so they feel prepared when they’re on their own.
To ease social anxiety, you can arrange play dates or activities with classmates.
Mark important dates on a joint family calendar that everyone can check, so there are no schedule conflicts or accidental double-booking when it comes to school events, teacher meetings, extracurricular activities and birthday parties.