Thursday, August 11, 2011

Smart Start: School Transition Made Easy

I'll be writing monthly for Everything Eagle as well as my co-hort Lisa Johnson, LMFT.
You can find great information and articles for your family and local Idaho resources for your family on Everything Eagle.
View my article here on Everything Eagle about the Smart Start: School Transition Made Easy.

The school year is fast approaching. I hear most parents say, "I’m so ready for my kids to go back." But are you ready to start the school year off with ease? Most of us are not.

Here are some tips for transitioning back into routines and creating structure that keeps stress low.
" • At least one week prior to the start of school kick in the school routine of bed times and wake times. Your average elementary age child needs 10-12 hours of sleep a night while 12-18 year olds need 8-10. Without proper sleep the morning starts off rough, waking is difficult, moods take a dive and development / learning suffers. If you notice your child having difficulty waking, move bed time up by thirty minute increments until you hit the mark. Also take into consideration that it takes 30-50 minutes before older children actually fall asleep once in bed.

• Set the alarm and track and reward their success for getting up independently rather than parents harping, dragging and threatening children to get out of bed. With the alarm going off open curtains to bring in natural light, pull covers back, and open the door with a gentle verbal reminder that they are responsible for getting up within the next 10 minutes. Most folks don't pop right out of bed, so set the alarm ahead to give them wake up time.

• Establish evening routines that match your schedule for the school year taking into account activities, down time, family dinner and bed time routines. Keep bed times consistent and schedule backwards from that end goal.

Creating a successful startup to your school day means organization and preparation. Both keep stress down and set the kids up for maintaining independence and responsibility.

• Create a space to keep winter gear, backpacks and shoes. If you do not have a common space for the family, which I like to call the drop zone, create space in their room. A double coat hook on a wall next to their bedroom door for example can store coats and back packs. A basket on the floor or a seat with under storage space serves as a cubby for hat, gloves, and shoes for the next day. This is not the place to store them all, just the items for the next day.

• Homework and other related items are packed in the backpack the night before and organized with the other items noted above. Often having one binder with dividers for subjects and sheet protectors help keep homework in one place.

• Have children select and lay out their clothing the night before. This includes accessories and seasonal gear.

• Create space in a cupboard or pantry for snack storage and lunch items as well as their lunch sack. Most items for lunch can be put together by the kids the night before and sandwiches or other things that might get soggy made the morning of. Leave time in the morning routine to pull together the rest of the lunch.

Creating these transitions helps kids become more independent but doesn't mean parents are out of the picture. It simply means you put a little effort in setting expectations and supporting them with verbal guidance rather than power struggles.