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Back to School Cues & Tips from The Kid Coach

Well, parents. It's that time of year again...back to school! The weather is still hot, the sun is still going down late, and it still feels like summer. So how can you give your kids some cues and rituals to symbolize that a change is about to occur? Here are a few tips:

-Start the conversation (and make it exciting). “School’s next week! You get to see your friends again! What do you think this grade is going to be like?” Casually drop school information into the days conversations. “I heard Ms. Johnson is a great teacher.” or “This year, you get to pick an instrument to play in music class. What are some instruments you’re interested in?” Let them know what time the school day begins and ends. Last but not least, ask them if they’ve thought about school. What have they thought about? Do they have any questions or concerns?

-Insert some back to school prep. Beyond school supply shopping, go shopping for lunch items and snacks together. Talk about what’s involved in packing their lunch. Practice preparing their lunchbox together. Pick out their first day of school outfit. Make their first day of school sign together.

-Get back on schedule. Gradually wake your kids up a little earlier and in turn, put them to bed earlier for a few days until they are back on schedule. If they haven’t been on a schedule during the day, an easy way to implement a daytime structure is to start with proper meals and mealtimes.

-Limit Screen time. In all fairness, this is not unusual for The Kid Coach to suggest at any given time during the year! Screens can be overstimulating and addictive. Wean your kids off of the screens now and let them re-acclimate to entertaining themselves or being able to concentrate and stay with non-screen activities for a reasonable length of time. A few examples include reading a book, practice telling time, drawing, writing, making change, etc.

-This should go without saying. Complete all of the schoolwork, math packets, book reading, etc that was assigned for the summer.

-Introduce or give a review of organization and study habits. Do they have all of the materials they need? Do they have a calendar? Do they know how to plan their time? Teach them how to stay ahead and not fall behind. When will they do their homework? Where will they do their homework? How will they organize it once it's complete?

-Stress management. New things are exciting, but they can also be stressful. New things will occur at school many, many times beyond the first day and those feelings of stress can occur then too. Talk to your kids about how to handle that stress. Offer suggestions that have worked for you or that you have observed has worked for them. (Examples include, taking a break from the situation, taking a deep breath, getting a drink of water, etc.)

-Social skills. We assume that our kids know how to be with their peers and this conversation is often overlooked. Talk to your kids about how to advocate for their needs. Talk to them about how to share. When they get upset about something, let them know how to express it appropriately. Practice with them how to speak up. How to tell someone when they don’t understand something. What to say when they feel uncomfortable. How to be a friend and how to resolve a conflict with a friend.

-The last hurrah. Are there any things (within reason) that the kids talked about doing this summer that you have not checked off the list? A day at the splash pad? A trip to the zoo? Finishing the puzzle that’s halfway done? A family movie night? An evening bike ride? Talk to your kids. Review some things they’ve done this summer. Ask them the question. “Is there something you were hoping to do this summer that is still left to do? (again folks, within reason) Pick one thing and make it happen.

-Relax! Don’t make this process stressful. Keep it casual and keep it fun. If you can’t address everything on this list, it’s still going to be fine. Do what you can and keep the balance.

And of course, have a great school year!

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