So what are some things we DO implement to make our transition easy on everyone.
1. Sleep. Both of my kids are early morning risers and require sleep. When they don’t get sleep, their bodies respond in strange ways & we will “pay” for it in the days to come. It makes NO difference what time they go to bed - they are up with the sun. Once we noticed this pattern in our children, we make a decision that during the summer, our sleep schedules don’t take a huge shift. We are a little more lenient but we still try to keep everyone going to bed around the same time as they do in the school year. Vacations, friends & day trips may adjust that for everyone a bit but what we’ve learned is that if we are home - getting our kids to bed makes all the difference in the world. It makes bedtime predictable, aids in calming anxiety & empowers their bodies with the sleep it needs!
2. Connect with teachers. Our school district provides a walk-through opportunity to meet teachers & drop off school supplies the day before school starts. This has been so good for our kids. (If your school district doesn’t offer this - call the school & set up a day to do it on your own!) We walk through the doors they’ll use, to their classroom & where they’ll put their backpack when they arrive the next day. We walk them to the bathroom, gym, lunchroom, library, office, & then leave through the same doors they will use. We want very little to be a surprise for them when they walk the halls with their class the following day. Our children meet their teachers & I am sure to introduce myself. (Note: This isn’t the time to jeopardize the teacher’s time & give her a packet of information on trauma & your child. More on that in Part 3.)
3. Think about the future. It seems crazy. There are plenty of things to be thinking about for THIS school year - let alone NEXT year or the next. Stick with me. When my oldest changed buildings, it was a very hard transition for a variety of reasons but one being just a new physical location. Knowing that we were going to do it in 2 years again to transition into Jr High, I started to dread it. When he chose to play in the band that practiced at the Jr High, I realized there was an added bonus. For 2 years, he was in/out of the Jr High building 2 days a week. I’m hoping that having been in the building, knowing where the bathrooms are, & the gym will give him some familiarity & aid in this year’s transition. Now I’m already thinking about high school. (eek!) The next 2 years, we will find ways to intentionally get into his high school - plays, basketball games, football games, they even have some summer camps for younger kids. Are there ways you can get into the next building your child will attend - book fairs, games, plays, etc? Start thinking now for the future.
Also if you child is making a school change in the next year or so, start thinking about the accommodations your child currently has. Will they help him be successful in the next grade level? Do you need to use this year to make him more independent or learn new strategies that are more appropriate?
4. Encourage your children. In the first few weeks of school (& all year long) think of specific ways to encourage your children. Share what you see in them & how you are praying for them. Ask if there’s anything you can pray for specifically. Leave notes in their lunchbox, locker, backpack or write it on the bathroom mirror. Remind them of WHOSE they are & speak life into them.
Here are a few great resources:
- Generation Claimed wrote 2 incredible books to speak God’s truth over our children. It’s a great way to jump into speaking scripture over your children in a comfortable way. Buy the book & write the scripture out for your children for their lunchbox or backpack. You can order on their website or through Amazon.
- Parent Cue has great backpack notes you can print to encourage your children.
- Or for a different route or to change it up check out these jokes for lunchboxes.
5. Give it 6 weeks. The first few weeks are hard on everyone. Choose your battles. Give yourself & your kids lots & lots of grace. It takes everyone - kids, parents & teachers to find a new rhythm & routine. I love these words from a teacher:
“We all need to give & receive loads of grace, patience, & understanding in those first wobbly, exhausting, can’t-get-it-right weeks. Six weeks of extra grace, patience, & understanding as you weave your way—sometimes clumsily & sometimes beautifully—into whatever “new normal” looks like for you.”
Mark 6 weeks in your calendar & celebrate with a special dinner. Share all the great things you’ve seen your child overcome in the first 6 weeks of school. (Not to mention all you’ve overcome too!!)
Next up in our Back to School Series Part 3, I'll be sharing ways to build bridges with the teachers in your child's life along with samples of teacher communication.