With the scorching heat of summer still upon us, kids in Arizona are heading back to school or for some, heading to school for the first time ever. As a parent this time of year can be anxiety-inducing, and this stress can be even greater for our kids. I was often reminded as my daughter was growing up that this is temporary and they will get through it but having a few tips or ideas can help.
- Plan Ahead for What You Can, But Be Prepared for Chaos
Planning for something never really hurts. Start letting your kids know that school will be starting soon in a calming way. Check the start and end times of school and review the bus schedules for your area. If they are new to the school, try doing a few “Dry Run” trips by the school. Get them accustomed to the layout of the school, this is where I will drop you off, or where the buses will drop you off. Have a plan for the first day of school but always remember things that sometimes will not go according to that plan and be prepared.
- Start a Sleeping Schedule Early
Summer nights are spent staying up late and getting up even later. A week or two before school starts try to get your kids back into a go-to-bed early and get up early schedule. Even if achieving this is gradual it's important and will help make the mornings more manageable. There is nothing worse than a tired cranky kid on the first day of school.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open Early
I always made sure that my kid's teachers had my email address and that I had theirs. My daughter was not fond of school when she was younger and having the ability to talk with her teachers about how her day really went was essential. Go to the parent-teacher nights, they will provide you with a greater insight into what your kid's day is like.
- Life is Messy Not Instagram
Remember every day isn’t perfect and running your days like they need to be will only add more stress and anxiety. Some kids are not hardwired for school and pushing for perfection, all good grades and doing every after-school activity there is will only make those kids miserable. Gently encourage your kids to participate in activities they enjoy. If they don’t want to participate understand that this is ok. If they are struggling with a class talk to the teacher to see if there is a study group or outside tutoring available.
- Back-to-School Shopping is a Marathon Not a Sprint
With budgets thin, and school supply lists long, back-to-school shopping can put some parents over the edge quickly. But not everything has to be bought on one day or weekend. When it comes to clothes and school there are two camps, and I have been in both. The first is school uniforms, everyone hates them until they go to a school that has them and then they are not so bad. Uniforms are nice in that they make school shopping for clothes quick, most offer a few different color tops and bottoms, just make sure you have enough for the week, and you're done. The second camp is regular clothes. I used back-to-school as a chance to go through my daughter's clothes and get rid of anything that was outgrown or had holes. Make a list of the things absolutely needed to get by and then shop the back-to-school sales. Shop places where you can use loyalty points or coupons and try to spread shopping out over a month or two. As for school supplies, I always waited until school started, and she got settled into her schedule as it made no sense to buy stuff that she might not need. Paper, pencils, notebooks, a good backpack, and a lunch bag are good items to start with. After the first week, you will have a better idea of what they really need. Some states have Sales Tax Holidays on weekends before school starts which can help stretch those dollars further, while some organizations and charities have backpack drives and giveaways. Check with local groups and community centers to see if any of those options are available.
- Create Good After School Habits
Creating good after-school habits is just as important as morning habits. Whether your child is in childcare after school, at Boys and Girls Club or just coming home after school setting good boundaries and expectations can help make the evening go by smoother. Set aside some time for homework or chores and try to limit how much screen time is done after school. Too much screen time can make it difficult for your kids to go to sleep so have a set time to turn off devices so they can unwind.
- Plan a family event for after the first week
Getting through the first week of school will fly by even with all the hiccups and stumbles. To help give the kids something to look forward to after all this stress try setting up a family fun day for the first Saturday back. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just an event that you and the family can do to celebrate the end of the first week, something that will help relieve any leftover stress and anxiety they have.
As always these are just suggestions and not all kids are alike but remember it doesn’t take long to develop new habits. If your child still seems to be struggling after the first month or so of school, you may need to reach out to professionals at the school or your family doctor for more help.