It's that time of the year again. New clothes, new backpacks, notebooks, lunchboxes, bus rides, excitement, anxiety...oh the joys of "Back to School."
The next couple of weeks tend to be when I receive lots of phone calls. Parents are often concerned because their children are not adjusting as easily to the school routine as they had hoped they would. Sometime this comes in the form of a phone call or note from the teacher, other times it comes from tantrums and irritability demonstrated from the child at home. Remember, many children have such a different routine during those summer months: different bed time, lots of play/free time, camps, vacations, different friends, etc., it is a lot to expect the routine to be 100% of a smooth transition quickly, in spite of your best attempts to plan it out. I often relate it to how parents feel about Monday mornings. Going to work Monday mornings may not be where you want to be, the alarm may not be the most pleasant sound, and you may just want to stay in your pajamas and have an extra cup of coffee that day. It's work...just like school is.
It takes several weeks for a classroom community to come together, so it's safe to expect some bumps along the way. Whenever you're able to prepare your child for changes and expectations in his/her routine, that is helpful. If his/her daily routine, both in and out of school, is consistent, it's easier to follow, there are fewer surprises, and expectations are already known.
Try to combine some fun activities with the responsibilities that accompany going back to school. If you know homework will take your child a couple of hours a night, see if you can squeeze in a quick game before starting to work. It's a great time to talk about how your child's day went, to see if he/she is excited (or anxious) about anything at school. That time reminds your child that even though he/she is "back to work," there is still fun time away from school. If you know that block of time is too long for your child to stay focused and work, break the session into chunks that are more manageable. Not all children are created equal! Everyone works differently and our job, as educators and/or parents, is to find what works for each child. It's an on-going process but, with some work, your child can certainly have a very successful year.
Take lots of deep breaths and let the new year begin...