After a summer of fun adventures and no homework, the back to school transition can be daunting for children and parents alike. The transition can be especially challenging for young children entering school for the first time or for older children starting in a new school. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to help to turn a bumpy beginning into smooth start.
- Open up the conversation now. Children and teenagers will probably have a lot of questions and may even have worries about going back to school. Talking it out can help put things into perspective and create opportunities for problem solving and planning before that first school bell.
- Plan ahead. Many school district websites have information about back to school procedures and lists of items that students may need. Taking the time to check now will help prevent panic in the last few days before school begins.
- Create a routine. Work with your child to create an after-school routine that you all can manage. Some children do best with getting their homework done as soon as they come home. Some children do better with a 20-30 minute break before launching into assignments. A manageable routine that is followed through can help children create time management skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
- Make a list and check it twice. Checklists are wonderful for both younger and older children. Help your child make a to-do list for assignments each day. For younger children, pair a word with a simple picture, for example math homework can say “math” and have a picture of a plus or minus sign. Older children can write their own to-do list. Encourage your child to do each item on the list and check it off when it is completed. This can lead to a sense of satisfaction and help the child realize that the seemingly overwhelming task of completing homework can be broken down into a few simple steps.
- Take a break. Many children will not be able to complete all of their assignments in one sitting and will need breaks. Work with your child to identify short- term activities that can serve as breaks. Some suggestions are: eating a small snack, exercising, taking a walk, listening to music or playing a short game. Short breaks can be built into a routine and/or a checklist to help children maintain their motivation to complete their work.
- The first few weeks leading up to school and during school can be hectic and overwhelming. Make an effort to incorporate downtime on weekdays and weekends. A jam- packed schedule can lead to burn out for children and parents alike. We all need time to slow down, relax and unwind.
A little bit of preparation and planning now can help maximize summer fun and minimize back to school blues.
Written by Juliet Haberbusch MOTR/L, pediatric occupational therapist at Holy Redeemer Pediatric Rehabilitation
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