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Family Forum: Transitioning From Summer Haze to School Days

How to get the kids ready for school.

Are you and your child starting to feel the first signs of back-to-school pains that come when summer days are soon to turn into school days? Here’s a back-to-school planner that can help everyone transition from the lazy days of summer to the structure of school days.

This Week: For families who have been cramming the maximum amount of fun into the summer, there’s a need to downshift activities as you approach the start of school. Tim Jahn, a parent educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, says parents should allow at least two weeks to re-establish and settle into regular routines to wind down from the entertaining, vacationing and summer camp schedules.

  • If your child has been sleeping until noon and staying up past midnight, he’s not going to catch the bus the first week of school. Gradually start to change his bedtime and wake-up time now.
  • If she’s been skipping breakfast, she’s going to be hungry by mid-morning. That means she’ll be distracted by hunger in school. Get her back in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast at an early hour.
  • If he's been wearing bathing suits and flip flops, he may balk at shoes and socks for school. Get him used to wearing clothes and shoes before you buy new school clothes. Otherwise, there will be tears and tantrums when clothes don’t feel right those first few days.

Next Week: Besides adjusting the summer schedule and routines, parents can help children approach the new school year with confidence and enthusiasm with a few preparation tips.

  • If this is a new school for your child, visit and tour the school. Looking at classrooms and locating bathrooms in advance can help children feel confident in the school environment.
  • Schedule a health check-up for your child if you haven’t already done so. Jahn says that even minor health problems like  allergies can adversely impact learning.
  • Discuss school safety. Most schools provide information about bus safety and school conduct before school begins.
  • Teach young children basic self-care skills, like using the bathroom, opening lunch containers and handling money.

The Big Day: How can you make the first day of school a good one? The following tips build momentum for school success on the first day and everyday thereafter.

  • Prepare the night before. Set out clothes, pack lunch and put the backpack by the door.
  • Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep, at least 10 hours, depending on their age, in order to wake up on time and have enough energy for school.
  • Prepare a nutritious and appealing breakfast and eat with your child if you can.
  • Send your child to school with messages of love and support. Try not to yell, nag or argue at the start of the day. Children may arrive at school feeling upset and distracted because of a    disagreement at home.
  • When your child gets home from school, spend time talking about his day. Begin a positive homework routine right from the start.

Liza N. Burby is Publisher of Long Island Parent Magazine and liparentonline.com.

Liza N. Burby August 24, 2011 at 05:09 PM
As your family transitions back to school, what changes are you making this week to help everyone enter the new year with minimal stress?

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