Back-to-School Basics

It has been said before that all good things must come to an end, and summer vacation is no exception to this rule.

As summer is winding down, your mind may be shifting to all things back-to-school related. For some, the shift from the lazy days of summer to a more structured schedule is a welcome change; for others, the thought can be overwhelming.

To help set you and your family up for a successful school year, we asked Jennifer Sproull, a mom from Zionsville, to share some of the ways she helps make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible for her family. Because who better to give tips than a parent who’s been through the experience many times?

What are some things you have incorporated over the years to help make a successful transition back to school?

Usually a week or two before school starts, we start slowly working back to earlier bedtimes to make sure they are ready to wake up in time to catch the bus. We also take a couple days to get school supplies, clothes, organize backpacks and lunchboxes, and discuss what the first week and new routine will look like for each child.

What advice do you have for parents sending their children to school for the first time who are worried about the transition?

Talk to your child about what to expect with new routines, teachers and classmates. If you have an opportunity to take the child to grab ice cream or a special meal together, to let them ask questions and share any concerns, I think that is nice, too. Let them know it is OK to be nervous, but remind them of all the fun things they will get to do. Try to find a couple good books to read together (such as The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn).

How do you get your children on a routine?

The best way to get your child on a routine is to maintain a relaxed routine throughout the summer. We enroll them in a few camps to remind their bodies what a routine looks like and we also keep a bedtime during the week (just a little more relaxed) so they don’t struggle with getting enough sleep.

Any other parenting tips?

Trust what works for your family. Change is harder for some kids than others, so having lots of conversations about what is coming can be helpful. My kids thrive on routine, so making sure we start earlier bedtimes a week before definitely helps. My number-one tip is to give your kids enough space in the first week to be tired, and maybe even a little crabby. Know that they are getting used to new rules, teachers and classmates, and need a safe space to not have it all together. From anxiety and fear of the unknown, to excitement about seeing friends and classmates, back-to-school time can be filled with a wide range of emotions. It’s important to validate their concerns, but also keep focusing on the positive.

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