SUMMER VACATION IS OVER!

OH! Now the WHOLE FAMILY has to transition BACK TO SCHOOL.

How do I get my child to school on time after unstructured days and sleeping until noon?

It takes time for a child to transition back to school routines. Therefore parents need to plan ahead for success in getting back to the structure of the school day.  During the last two weeks of summer vacation parents need to begin reestablishing bedtime routines. In anticipating success the parent should talk to the child about the change in bed time rules and morning routine for the new school year.

How do I transition my child back to homework when he has media overload? 

As in the bed time routine, this requires planning ahead. Plan for specific times during the week when there is no screen time or media. The best time to work on summer homework activities is in the morning after breakfast. If you leave it to the end of the day the child will be tired.

•Establish routine times for the family to read stories together.

•Make going to the library and book store a fun outing to select books based on the child’s interests.

•Plan for each child to give presentation to the whole family on a book that he / she found interesting.

•For the older child find an activity that is related to the book that will be an incentive for the child to read.

How will the whole family adjust to a new schedule?

OMG! that means that the parents as well as the children need to establish school time routines. Yes! Breakfast, after school activities, dinner as a family and bedtime routines.

What about mealtimes?

•It is important for the child to eat breakfast and parents need to have proper breakfast foods available.

•Include the child in selecting a new lunch box and thermos if necessary. With the younger child, it is fun to make a list of foods and go to the grocery store to have a healthy variety for breakfast and lunch.

•Children need to have a healthy breakfast before beginning the school day. If your child does not like to eat breakfast, it may be that they are eating dinner too late the night before.

•It is important for children to have a regular time for dinner that allows them to digest their food before going to sleep. Eating three hours before going to bed allows for story time and quiet time before going to bed. The child will sleep more soundly and wake up more rested and ready to begin the morning routine.

•It is ideal for the family to eat together but this may not be possible when children are very young. Therefore one of the parents should sit with the child during the child’s dinner.

How do I get my child up in the morning and ready to go out the door for school?

•Be proactive. Create solutions. Anticipate that the child is slow in the morning and plan-ahead for how long everything should take including needed sleep, morning alarm, washing, clothes selection, breakfast and getting the backpack / school supplies ready.

•Plan your day. Determine how long it will take to get ready in the morning and work backward from the departure time to determine the time of the alarm. The parent should be dressed when waking up the child to set an example of being ready.

•Prepare the environment: get kitchen equipment and utensils that children can handle easily so that they can be independent in getting breakfast (plastic glasses, small pitchers).

•Time management: Get as much ready as possible the night before, including setting out clothes and back packs and have the child set his or her own alarm if age appropriate.

•Establish age appropriate rules and routines, use checklists. Meet with the child to discuss the new rules. Do a talk through of the new rules and routines. Write the rules down so everyone remembers. Explain to the child the “why” of the routine/rules as part of the training.

•Establish age appropriate rewards and consequences. Most children like to stay in bed so motivate them by telling them that if they can sleep later tomorrow if they meet the time deadlines for getting out the door on time. Other rewards can be extra stories or reading at night.

•Talk with the child about what he / she anticipates or reactions to starting school.

By involving the whole family and planning ahead, the new school year will be a great success!

Written for the Ross Valley Mother’s Newsletter, August 2013

Roberta Hoffman and Hillary Wollin

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