Back to School season is finally here!
Even for our younger students, the start of a school year brings a great opportunity to reestablish routines and start fresh. Because it’s not just big kids who are going to have to adapt to back to school schedules- babies and toddlers will be affected by the start of school too.
During the summer months, many families find that their schedules have become more relaxed. While this break from routine is a great way to enjoy family time, it can sometimes make it difficult to get back into “back to school” mode. This time of year is a great opportunity to reestablish routines and remind children of expectations.
How can you help your child get in a “back to school” routine?
Plan out your family routines
Take time to think about the tasks that need to be done, and then line them up in the same order every day. Ask your child to give feedback and turn this initial planning stage into a learning opportunity. Brainstorm together, making a list of things that need to be completed at a certain time of day- such as in the morning before school. Have fun with it and list everything that could happen in the morning and sort the tasks into things that need to happen and tasks that you don’t have time to do in the morning. Making lists and comparing/contrasting helps children build math skills.
A predictable routine helps children feel a sense of security. This helps children know what to expect. Working together to develop the routine helps the child to feel ownership.
Make time to read a book together before bedtime
Summer fun usually means busy schedules and a rushed bedtime routine. Or perhaps late trips that lead right to carrying a sleeping child to his or her bed! Start transitioning into a consistent bedtime routine by always reading at least one book together before bedtime. This is a good time to read a slightly longer book that may not hold your child’s interest during a busy day, but may help the transition from play to sleep. Read books that discuss school and education to start bringing those words into your child’s vocabulary.
I’d recommend reading my book Edgar Graduates as it helps children understand the milestones that they have already reached and the further opportunities that they may achieve. It helps children understand school and education terminology that will benefit them throughout life.
Prepare in advance as much as possible
Everyone has days where things are just too hectic and it is difficult to stick to the established schedule. Try to make preparations to help you stick to your routines. Make lunches ahead of time so you aren’t rushing around in the morning. Ask your child to help you set out the books that you want to read later in the day before bedtime. Try to stick to your routine for at least a week, but re-evaluate if you feel something isn’t working. Make sure to involve your child in the change, but make sure to “sell” the difference! It is all in how you frame it- “we never have enough time in the morning” is more negative than “you are so big now, we’re going to start packing our bag for school after dinner time!”
Working together as a family will help make this transition time flow smoothly. What tips do you have to help with “back to school” routines for young children?
Mary Ann Shallcross Smith
President, Dr. Day Care