Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Back to School Success – 5 Ideas for Starting Out Right
It’s back-to-school season! In some parts of the country, you’re weeks into the year, and in others, you’re just getting started.
My kids don’t start until September 6 and 9 respectively…pretty late in the game, but we don’t mind—we are soaking up every last minute of summer that we can!
That said, that first day is top of mind, and I am anxious to get the school year off to a great start.
In light of that, here are few reminders from the trenches…
Give everyone some time to adjust!
While many parents are excited for the back-to-school season for the regularity it brings to our days and weeks, it can feel scary for kids. It’s new, they don’t know exactly what to expect, the days can feel long, and those things can bring some exhaustion and big emotions. That’s okay. Whether it’s their first year at school or their last, they may have big feelings, and if you can normalize those feelings, let them know those feelings are okay whatever they are, and be their soft place to fall, you can help them adjust more quickly (not to mention build healthy connections). Patience and empathy are the name of the game here!
Create predictable routines.
I wrote about this during COVID, but the reality is that most kids thrive on routine. That doesn’t mean every day needs to be the same as the last, but it does mean having a consistent waking and sleep time (yes, even for those teens), consistent meal times, and largely predictable activities and appointments. For those kids who don’t keep a digital calendar, it can be really helpful to write out what happens each day, and maybe also what supplies/equipment they need each day for sports, classes, and music lessons, etc.
Don’ forget Special Time.
If you had more time to spend with your kids over the summer, the school year may be hard for them because it brings about increased separation and decreased connection. This in and of itself can cause disruptions to behavior. Special Time—unstructured one-on-one time you spend with your children—is one of the #1 ways to decrease behavioral issues. After being gone from you so much of the day (especially if they have after-school care or activities), bringing them back into the family fold and connecting with them—even for just a few minutes—can mean the difference between calm and chaos.
Make it fun!
Of course school is for learning and growth—both academically and socially and emotionally. But that doesn’t mean it has to be drudgery; particularly in the early years, the social emotional piece is even more important than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. For younger kids, if you can foster a sense of joy, wonder, and excitement around learning, it will help set the tone for the rest of their school careers. And while (a reasonable amount of) homework becomes a necessity and beneficial to learning in the upper grades (middle school and high school) the research is pretty clear that it is of little to no benefit in most cases for elementary students. Keeping that in mind, don’t be afraid to make decisions around homework that is consistent with the research in favor of preserving your child’s love of school and learning.
Partner with your child’s teacher and other parents.
From a safety standpoint, as well as for the overall well-being and success of your child, it’s important to partner early on with your child’s teacher(s), as well as other parents. This means reaching out to the teacher and letting them know you’re active and engaged and are there to support both them and your child in making it a successful school year. This also means letting them know that you’ve had body-boundary conversations with your child and that you talk openly about safety. It means meeting and connecting with other parents—after all, it takes a village and the more parents keeping an eye out for the wellbeing of each child, the better! When parents connect, and talk, and keep tabs on school goings-ons, it can help curb issues before they get out of hand.
The start of the school year will be different for every child—and some will adjust to the newness more easily than others. Whoever your children are, and whatever their feelings are, using these tips and bringing some intentionality to the year will go a long way toward success.
Here’s to a great year!
Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.
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