As the carefree days of summer reach their annual end, you can help reduce the stress of the back-to-school transition with careful planning. It is crunch time with just one week until Pinellas County schools start and even less time before Hillsborough County schools begin. Set aside this week as an adjustment period before the first day to create an anxiety-preventing routine for children. Here are a few ideas to make the most of this busy time of year.
1. Stagger your sleep schedule
Once extended summer daylight shows the first signs of dwindling, start easing into the school year routine with earlier wake-up and bed times. School-aged children need an average of 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Adjust their sleep schedules gradually in 15-minute increments each night to match these needs, starting a week or two before the first day.
2. Coordinate your calendars
For many families, the start of the school year extends to new beginnings beyond the academic calendar. Football practice, class outings, ballet lessons and other extracurricular activities need to be accounted for alongside school holidays and homework deadlines.Coordinate your family’s schedules using apps like Google Calendar, or use a master diary to keep track of appointments.
3. Reduce screen time
If screen-time rules have been relaxed over the school holidays, wean your family off their technology in the weeks leading up to the new school year. Encourage everyone to unplug their devices in the evening, keeping tablets and smartphones out of the bedroom. This will help children sleep better in the run-up to school, for added focus in the classroom.
4. Create designated zones in the home
Avoid the impending chaos of school mornings by creating clear areas for bags, lunch containers and jackets – browse our interior design blogs for organisation tips. This small back-to-school preparation technique streamlines morning activities, ensuring children know where to find their belongings. You can create another quiet zone for homework, whether it’s in your child’s bedroom or the home office. Make sure it’s peaceful and well-stocked with all the required school supplies.
5. Allow children to take an active role
It’s natural to experience some degree of anxiety when starting a new school or even entering a new classroom. Give your child an element of control over the back-to-school transition to help them gain confidence. Acts like visiting the school to meet the teacher, picking out school supplies and planning a lunch menu can help them feel both engaged and prepared rather than anxious.
6. Get organised the night before
You can finalise back-to-school preparation efforts the night before your child’s first day. Rather than spending the first morning in a rush selecting uniforms and making lunches, set out clothes and pack meals ahead of time. Take showers, fill water bottles and complete paperwork so that the morning runs smoothly.
7. Implement a first-day ritual
Make the big day a special one by marking it with a new family tradition. This transforms a potentially nerve-racking day into one of celebration. Whether it’s a pancake breakfast, dinner outing or small morning surprise tucked away in their school bag, you’ll help make the first day of school one to look forward to each year.
The back-to-school transition can be a positive experience for the whole family. Embrace new beginnings, get organised and make this fresh start an enjoyable one.