September is often a month of new things – a new school, a new class or teacher and even new friends. This can be an exciting time for many, but a time for anxiety for others. But there are a few things parents and children can do to allay some of those fears.
Getting a routine
Establishing a clear and consistent routine is important for children. You could write out the steps in the routine and rehearse them with your child. In the evening, this could include doing homework, playtime, brushing their teeth, having a bath, and reading before bed
Getting back into a school sleepwon’t happen straight away! A few weeks before school starts, try to help your child get into the habit of going to bed earlier. Gentle winding-down activities such as bath time and reading before bed can help your child relax.
Children who play an active role in preparing for back to school – such as choosing and organising school supplies or uniform – are more likely to get excited about going back to school, which in turn eases their fears. Is your child old enough for chores like emptying the dishwasher or making lunches? Daily, age-appropriate tasks will help your child gain independence and confidence.
Choose the right backpack
Backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly could result in muscle strain, headaches, and neck pain. Try to choose a backpack made of sturdy, lightweight fabric with wide, padded straps that will support your child’s shoulders. Watch that they don’t sling it over just one shoulder.
Practice the route to school
If you’re walking or catching the bus you can practice your ‘school’ run. This can help prepare your child for their first day – what things can they see, how many doors can they count – and help you to organise your morning.
Establish healthy habits
Involve your children in choosing and preparing healthy lunches and snacks – even take them shopping so they can choose what they would like. Also, try to stick to regular meal times.
Limit screen time
Back to school is the perfect opportunity to re-establish screen time limits. Why not have the whole family “unplug” in the evenings before bedtime? Choose a spot where everybody can charge their devices overnight. Use an alarm clock instead of a phone to wake up in the mornings.
Talk about first-week worries
Reassure your child that being nervous is natural – even for teachers. You can help your child cope with these feelings when you:
Celebrate the start of a new school year
If you celebrate the first day of school, your kids will see back-to-school as a transition they can really enjoy. Try a special back-to-school tea before school starts, complete with cake, balloons and educational gifts. And don’t forget to take a picture on the front step in their first-day-of-school outfits. It’s going to be a great year!