The school year is in full gear and you may be finding that after the summer months of lax bedtimes and fun in the sun, it is tough to get your kids back into a routine.
Here are a few ways to help transition them from summer to school with a whole lot less stress:
Make a Homework Contract
Child and family therapist, and author of Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Michele Kambolis recommends a “tear-free homework agreement” that you discuss with them in advance.
“A contract is self-motivating and gives children a feeling of control,” says Kambolis. “This can include where and when to do homework and rewards they want to give themselves when they’re done.”
It also ensures parents don’t become the homework police.
“Some children want you very close and others might want to do the task on their own and check in towards the end,” she adds.
Start Tweaking Bedtime
“Kids need about 10.5 hours a night and often don’t get enough,” cautions therapist and parenting expert Jennifer Kolari. “Start getting them acclimatized to a new sleep routine at least a week beforehand by slowly adjusting bed times by 5 or 10 minutes.”
Minimize Screen Time
“Build a routine where you shut down screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime,” says Kambolis. “It deregulates melatonin production and can cause real sleep issues.”
Be Empathizers, Not Cheerleaders
When kids express they don’t want to go to school, parents often respond by saying how great everything will be.
“Fight that urge to talk them out of how they’re feeling,” says Kolari. She covers this approach in her book, Connected Parenting: How To Raise A GREAT Kid. “There is a place for this, but it’s important to connect by listening to their words and hearing where they are.”
Get a White Board
“Have family meetings to talk about how you’re going to work together. Make this a time of teamwork so it’s not all falling on one parent’s shoulders,” says Kambolis.
Kambolis and Kolari are big believers in using giant white boards to keep the whole family organized and on track.
“It can be very calming for kids when you can walk them up to the calendar and show them their day” says Kolari.
Don’t Over Schedule
“The shift back into the school year is enough of a change so to add a bunch of after school activities is often overloading,” says Kambolis. “Not only that, it takes our children away from us at a time when they need to talk and connect.”
Be Tuned In
“Kids start to grieve summer and get anxious about going to school. They won’t tell you but you’ll see it in behavior like moodiness or defiance,” says Jennifer Kolari. “The best things parents can do is be there to help with the transition.”
Marianne Wisenthal is a lifestyle writer, digital content producer, mom and city gal living in Toronto, Ontario.