by Rebecca Glavin, MBA, MSW, LCSW
If you are anything like me, 4th of July festivities are a distant memory. The family’s red, white and blue outfits that I spent most of June picking out will not be worn again for another year (assuming they even fit then), and all of the excitement related to fireworks and sparklers has since been forgotten. Instead, as I look at my calendar, I notice that the middle of August is quickly approaching and that September 1st is just around the corner. I get lost in thoughts about how hot it is and how I am practically melting when I walk from my car to my front door. And then, it hits like a punch in the stomach…it is August 1st…that means school is starting soon…really soon…that month soon! Just like that, I am lost in thought again about how neither my kids nor I am ready for school and how none of us want the summer to end. In the spirit of planning ahead, I want to share my top 3 tips on how to prepare for the end of summer and the beginning of the next school year. Transitioning back to school is never easy, but following these recommendations can help to make it as smooth as possible.
#1 – Get back on a schedule early
My # 1 tip for transitioning back to school for kids of any age is to get back on a schedule early…. Like now. Waking up before the bus is not easy or, honestly, fun for anyone. However, practice can help. Decide as a family that you are all going to start your school morning routine one or two weeks before school actually starts. Wake up on time, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack your bag, etc. Then, instead of getting on the bus or into the carpool lane, leave your house and do something else. Whether it is going to a park, a museum or work, following through with the ins-and-outs of the morning routine in advance can help the entire family to prevent (hopefully) major meltdowns on the actual first day of school.
#2 – Reach out to school friends
My #2 tip for transition back to school is to reconnect with school friends, especially those in your child’s class. During the summer, families often go their separate ways. Some families travel, some kids go to the pool, others go to camp. Regardless of where your child has been and what your family has done this summer, seeing familiar faces before the first day of school and reconnecting with peers can help to reduce anxiety your child has about seeing people for the first time. Everyone has questions about whom they will be friends with and whether or not others have changed; having a familiar face waiting for you when you get off the bus on the first day of school is something everyone benefits from.
#3 – Choose your words wisely
My #3 tip for transitioning back to school is to make sure that you set the tone in your house positively. Regardless of how you really feel about your child’s teacher, whether or not you think middle school is going to be hard, or even if you would prefer your child to have gotten schedule A versus B, make sure that you choose words carefully. Your child will hear the messages you send, verbally and nonverbally, loud and clear. I also highly recommend sitting down with your kids and asking them how they feel about the upcoming year. What are they excited about? Nervous about? What are their goals, both academically and socially? The more conversation and communication before the school year starts, the more likely it is that your family will have the skills it needs to supportively move forward if something difficult does arise at some point in the year.
In the end, the transition from summer to school is both tough and thrilling. Taking time to prepare and become more aware of the changes that lie ahead will only behoove you and your family as the inevitable end of summer vacation arrives.
Rebecca Glavin, MBA, MSW, LCSW is a therapist in Charlotte who specializes in working with women with body image and self-esteem concerns as well as eating disorders. Rebecca also works with women who struggle with infertility, women who have miscarried, and women who have parenting concerns. Rebecca lives in the Cotswold area with her husband and two daughters. To learn more about Rebecca, visit her website http://www.rebeccaglavin.com, or find her profile and information on the Psychology Today website here.